It’s been almost a year since the 2016 US elections, post which anyone who was not American didn’t feel safe. Believe me, the media did enough damage to scare the bejeezus out of my mom and in laws. But then something like the Las Vegas shooting happens and you realize it’s not about  white people or black people or brown people or brown people or Muslims or Christians or Jews or if you’re gay, straight, transsexual or even if you were a man, woman or child. In today’s world, it doesn’t matter who you are anymore, you could be the culprit or you could be the victim. We live in such turbulent times that it’s hard to trust anyone.

In today’s world sometimes a heart emoticon is all you need

Heck, I’ll be first to admit I don’t trust people easily. In India, we assume everyone who is nice to us, has an ulterior motive. Indians aren’t used to social pleasantries and I feel like we are an inherently aloof country. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just our normal.

if a stranger said hello to me in India, I would think it’s creepy because no one does it

But the US is so different! Since H and I moved here last year, we’ve seen or been part of so many situations where we think, “Man, people are so nice here!” And it is a culture shock because sometimes, we don’t know how to reciprocate.

First there’s the little things, everyone holds the door open for the person behind them. In India, expecting the same thing, I ended up walking straight into a glass door (multiple times). Back home, we never even look at strangers, forget saying hello. I mean if a stranger said hello to me in India, I would think it’s creepy because no one does it! I remember when we visited the US in 1998, my mom, brother and I were walking in a lovely neighborhood in Philadelphia and my mom waved to a lady and I asked her in wonder, “wow, ma, do you know that lady?” Of course she didn’t! But I soon realized how that’s how it is here. If you are walking past somebody no matter what they are doing or what you are doing, they will ask you to have a good day. It’s funny, but this little gesture actually does make my day better.

In today’s world where hate is spewed on the internet, countries are fighting each other, religions are fighting each other and animals are being tortured, saying hello to a stranger could go a long way.

Then there’s the ever helpful people. A lady’s car stops and 5 people rush to her aid from different directions irrespective of what they’re doing. People always make sure that handicapped, women, kids and elderly are given their seats in a bus, waiting room, etc. someone has an accident, cars will stop, call 911 and wait with the victim. In India, I’ve seen people drive by accidents, shooting videos on their phone but not wanting to get involved. Voyeurism at its best.

I miss my dogs back home, everyday so I decided to start walking neighbors’ dogs to give me my fill of doggie cuddles. These dog owners are lucky that I’m obsessed with dogs but I know for a fact, I would scrutinize anyone if they were to walk my dogs or enter my home. But these pet parents are so so trusting of me. Either I have an adorable face and a charming personality or they are just that trusting. They’ve all given me access to their homes when they are at work or traveling. I have their house keys and garage codes to enter their homes. I always wonder if they have the slightest doubt in their mind that might have a party and trash their place. Who am I kidding? I’m a boring, almost 31 year old H4 visa wife. Obviously they sense it too!

So many of them are enamored by the fact that I’m a writer and they will always tell me that I have a beautiful name

There is one particular lady who has two adorable little mutts and when I went to meet them, I was politely going in for a handshake, when she engulfed me in a hug and said her door is open anytime and since her kids had moved out, she missed having young people around. She said H and I could come anytime and eat anything in her fridge! And every time I text her to let her know I’ve finished walking the dogs, she sends me heart emoticons and a “love you and so thankful for your help”. So many of them are enamored by the fact that I’m a writer and they will always tell me that I have a beautiful name or that I’m so gorgeous. Sure helps the ego but more importantly, people go out of their way to be nice.

In today’s world where hate is spewed on the internet, countries are fighting each other, religions are fighting each other and animals are being tortured, saying hello to a stranger could go a long way.

In today’s world sometimes a heart emoticon is all you need.

H4 visa wife is a new column starting on SheThePeople walking through experiences of former journalist Minakshi Sekhar and her ever evolving stint in the United States.

Email us at connect@shethepeople.tv