The Other Side

There are plenty of American Journalists living in and writing about the Arab World; for various reasons, there are comparatively few Arab journalists living in and writing about the United States. A year ago, my friend Khalid Abdulhadi traveled to the United States in a trip organized by the State Department’s International Visitors Program. Here the English version of an article he wrote for al-Masdar; original Arabic article can be read here

America is split, tightening its belt 

There will  be no better  ideal opportunity to see  Americans normally  behave   than to visit  a bustling city, such as San Francisco, which I actually did late last October. At that particular time, the US presidential   campaign was nearing its climax just one week ahead of Election Day, as the San Francisco Giants team won the World baseball championship, which was coupled with the advent of the Halloween festival.   

The US, which is the world’s economic superpower, receives its visitors with an official caution and yawning atmosphere as if it acquiesced to economic concerns after it had renounced its costly pride.

Washington Dulles airport , which receives the bulk  of travelers coming  to the US capital through Europe, features America’ fear of any visiting foreigner. Visitors usually stand in long lines, waiting for drastic security checks and/ or huge police dogs appallingly and zealously scrutinizing all new comers in what can be described as the most noticeable psychological legacy from the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Autumn has strewn about cherry leaves along Washington pavements surrounded by landmarks tinged with French taste and Greek-like design. A combination of scenes spurs visitors to think  that the superpower that grapples with an economic crisis is to going to see another autumn visiting exhausted empires.

Furthermore, myriad renovations are simply and austerely carried out on Washington streets and buildings as the Japanese and European-made vehicles dominate vehicle lines in all US cities. It is here in America that gleaners of paradoxes can pinpoint  many signs of austerity in the largest country of Capitalism and the guardian of its values.

Though the third debate that took place  on October 23 between the Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama, and his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, was allocated  for the discussion of the US foreign policy, both nominees tended a little bit to deliberate upon  economic issues that have been of key concern for Americans since the global economic crisis erupted.

“One of the challenges that have faced us over the recent years  in the countries we governed (Iraq and Afghanistan) is that we tried to build up such countries while neglecting our economy, education and energy. We cannot give lessons to the world without applying same in our country,”  said Obama.

Responding to Romney, who pushed for an increase in defense spending, and criticized his rival’s military policies by accusing  him of stinting military spending and of weakening the US influence across the world, Obama said, “The world needs a strong America. therefore, it is important to rebuild America. My plan is this: let us first bring industrial jobs into our country. This is actually what I have done when I subsidized automakers. We should also do our best to create job opportunities for tomorrow , mainly in the field of energy”.

Transnational refrain:

The phrase “made in China” has increasingly grown into a transnational refrain, perhaps more than the US MacDonald’s snack foods and other US transnational products.

The US market will be the best gauge for China’s emerging economic power, as Chinese products do overwhelmingly meet Americans’ needs at a time when the US is getting increasingly suspicious that China is a launch pad  for cyber attacks on US data, including senior officials’ letters, thereby stealing a huge amount of information. 

The lunch we had at the Busboys and Poets restaurant had a different flavor to it, as Elisabeth Gomez, program officer at the Near East, North Africa, South and Central Asia Branch at the office of international visitors and another US State Department officer were sitting on the other side of the table.

 The conversation  we had  on the sidelines of the lunch  would lend another savor to the meeting, especially as Americans told us that government officials talk openly when engaging in in-camera  meetings   during which we were free to pose questions to them.  

Keen to hear what Americans would say about China, I raised  a cup , on whose bottom written the phrase “made in China,”   before the eyes of Elizabeth and her colleague, wondering, “China maintains  high presence here. Is America concerned with this? And how does it view the emerging China? ” 

The lady, almost in her fifties, and her colleague burst out in laughter and then uttered phrases not different from those usually articulated by diplomats.

However, what wasn’t articulated that day by the US State Department’s two officers, was expressly stated by the two presidential nominees  during the third presidential debate that focused on the US foreign policy; the Republican candidate Mitt Romney scathingly lashed out at China, pledging to take a tough line on it if elected president.

Barak Obama  initially  tried to speak in a softer tone, but was later obliged to follow Romney’s suit, since he was addressing voters aspiring for a strong America. Further, Obama, who first looked tolerant compared to his challenger, spoke harshly of China “That floods our markets with Chinese-made tires.” He  came  to the conclusion that “It [China]  is a rival and, at the same time, a potential  partner if it abides by the US  rules and regulations.

“We shall insist that China play the same role  as others ” he added.

Romney, for his part, harshly slammed the emerging Asian country, saying ” If we seek relations with China, then this should be in our favor. I noticed that our companies were closed down in the past years, as China doesn’t stick to the same regulatory rules. They offer cheaper products in a more competitive manner while we lose jobs”.

 “They are stealing our inventions and hacking  our computers. There is no balance with  China because it undervalues  its currency. However, this matter should stop. They shouldn’t continue  undervaluing their currency and stealing our inventions, patents and concepts, and then come to sell such things in our country” he said.

 “We noticed that lots of Chinese-made devices carry the same serial numbers. They (the Chinese) steal   US products’ serial numbers. I look for strong trade relations with China. They can be partners; however, they shouldn’t continue stealing our jobs” Romney said.

China’s emergence  must  have become a key concern for Americans. While in Sana’a, we were told that “You will visit  Milwaukee, an industrial city located in Wisconsin, whose residents are poor.” When I wondered at the time “How industry and poverty coexist ? An official at the US embassy’s cultural attaché in Washington  replied that   factories have been shut down due to the global  economic crisis and the influx of  Chinese products.  

 The Divided  US:

On the fourth floor of The  Atlanta Journal Constitution  office building  located  in the city of Atlanta, the paper’s manager  Pert Roughten dwelled upon  the effects of the  economic crisis  and how  his newspaper addressed them. He then came to the conclusion that the split the US has seen during the recent presidential elections is just like that which occurred in the wake of the 19th century  civil war.

It seemed  to me that such a similitude was overstated. I then reminded Roughten of the political division that usually  takes place during presidential polls. However, he cited different figures and percentages from recent elections.

Roughten was right in his analysis. An exit poll run by Reuters showed that the Republican candidate Mitt Romney won the votes of the white electorate- males and females- while his Democratic Rival, Obama, commanded a lead of a big margin among voters from other ethnic groups.

The poll, conducted for Reuters by Ipsos Institution, further revealed that Romney was leading Obama among white voters by 20 percentage points, as the Democratic aspirant was trailing far behind by 21 percentage points  across the US, except in Ohio, where he lost the white votes by 12 percentage points.

In addition, the recent US vote was the second in a row in which the Republican hopeful couldn’t win more than one out of three votes cast by  Latin voters.

Such percentages shed light on the future  relationships that may govern the choice of the US voters of Asian, African and Latin origins, who, due to Republicans’ hard line on many issues, mainly immigration,  may vote for the Democratic candidate,  just as was the case with the 2012 elections.

It follows that America is divided, having an  ailing economy. The country is struggling to recover from the worst  economic recession in 80 years; this is why Obama defeated his Republican challenger in Ohio, where the majority of votes often go to  Republicans. It is also because Obama backed the bailout of automakers concentrated in this state, where one out of eight jobs are linked to the auto-making industry.

 Altogether, most American analysts believe that Obama traded on economy in winning a second term in office, despite that the US economy didn’t grow a lot. But, the steps he has  taken  to support the economy were significant and multi-pronged. 

Economy is the catchword in the US. This is an undisputable fact, to the extent that  newly-appointed Secretary of the State , John Kerry, while outlining the US foreign policy, told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 24, that” Foreign policy is an economic policy. It is important to show people the world over that we could do our work effectively and timely”.

On February 12, the US economic issues dominated the US President Obama’s State of the Union address in which he vowed to make economy his top-most priority. Obama demanded that the Congress approve a rise in the  minimum wage, and allow the government to work for the interest of the majority rather than the minority of US citizens.  

Perhaps, the phrase” economic crisis” is the most frequent expression that has been bandied by Americans since 2009. The big number of media employees has now become a thing of the past. When a visitor finishes touring a media institution, he/she can take a look at other parts of the same building, has have become derelict or a store for threadbare furniture.

The international news editor of the San Jose-based San Jose Mercury News, opened a spacious store housing heaps of time-worn  furniture items, saying that ” Prior to  the financial crisis, the venue was a news room, which used to be  full of employees”.

Compared to what is going to take place later, such signs of austerity are just a prescription meant to help Americans adapt to a new phase of real austerity the US has just entered. Indeed, sharp government spending cuts, which went into effect on March 1, would amount to $85 billion by late next September. Such cuts, which involve all kinds of government spending, spell a shock to the US economy.

The move, which resulted from the failure of both the Republicans and Democrats to approve an alternative budget, could lead to  750,000 jobs being lost in 2013.

Pearl on Western US Coast:

Five days of the program had elapsed, during which time almost all Americans we met, and who knew that our next destination was San Francisco, California, wowed the trip and advised us to enjoy it.

San Francisco is the key US hub of tourism, freedom and beauty, a city where skyscrapers adjoin green hills and water. One can just say “water” without going into specifics, as this charming city is a peninsula in the care of water. It is bounded by the Pacific Ocean, Golden Gate Straits on the north, and San Francisco Gulf, one of the world’s most fascinating waterways, on the east. This makes it outstrip its renowned counterparts on the US western coast, San Diego and Los Angeles.

Skyscrapers, mainly the US pyramid that stands 260 meter high, the tallest in the city, line San Francisco’s  coast.

However, the peerless landmark in San Francisco is the Golden Gate bridge linking the city to Sausalito located in Marin district to the north of Golden Gate. It is one of the world’s most famous suspended bridges, in terms of its length that amounts to 1970 meter, its orange color that made it unique, and its historic fame for the art of hanging bridges.

Built in 1937, the bridge took four years to build, and remained until 1964 the longest hanging bridge to the extent that the US Civil Engineers’ Association classified it as one of the seven wonders of the present day world. The travel guide branded it as “perhaps the most beautiful and most filmed bridge in the world”.

Running along the Golden Gate bridge are four other significant bridges: San Mateo–Hayward linking San Mateo city to the south of San Francisco to the city of Hayward. The other such bridge connects Richmond to the north of San Francisco with San Rafael. The third is the Gulf bridge that links San Francisco to the city of Oakland; the fourth is Dumbarton connecting the city of Redwood to adjoining small cities on the other bank of the Gulf, including Union and Fremont.      

We shall cross the Gulf bridge into Oakland and then Berkley where professor Greg Niemeyer gave a lecture on the new media at the new media center of Berkley University that ranks  4th among the world’s best universities.   

The center reflects the reality of the US society made up of a mix of immigrants; the professor hails from Switzerland while most students at the lecture hall descend from Asian and Latin origins, in addition to few white Americans. As for Danielle Alojado , she hails from a family of Mexican descent.

Danielle, a female student with clear Mexican complexion, who warmly welcomed us and squeezed her facial muscles to articulate  an Arabic sentence when the professor  asked his students to greet us in Arabic. Peace be upon you”, the whole class said loudly in broken Arabic.”

 After I had briefed  the students on the political and geographic nature of my home country , Yemen, as my colleagues had given  me the carte blanche to do so, Danielle was highly  excited  as she, together with her classmates, joyfully applauded, thus bringing me 15 years back when applause was an act of honor  during my school days.

To reciprocate the warm reception  and cordiality  Daniel accorded us, I indulged in praising the novels of famous Chilean novelist Isabel Allende  as well as other noted novelists  from Latin America, from Salvador Allende to Lionel Messi. To my surprise,  I found out that Danielle had read “The Daughter of Luck“.

During a Mexican lunch at a restaurant on the University Campus ,which involved  the professor , me and other teammates, our ongoing conversation was only interrupted when I asked the professor whether or not he perceives the accelerating countdown to the eclipse of the uni-polar order. Not believing in the uni-polar order theory, the professor replied  that the world is governed by the principle of integration.

However, in a lecture he gave two days later, Niemeyer regretted his answer to my question, explaining that he was influenced by Americans’ perception of their own homeland, which is distinct from that of other countries that perceives the US differently.

When the US heralded the emergence of the new world order in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse in the early decades of last century, the US media and art embraced a specific stereotype of the US superpower. Now, however, the Americans have easily given up that perception, having felt the impact of emerging world poles on their country. This is the conclusion I drew from Niemeyer ‘s  and many American politicians’ perspective  of  the concept of international integration.

The time then came to say goodbye to professor Niemeyer and his students and to  return to San Francisco to circumnavigate Alcatraz island, which protrudes from the Gulf as a huge boulder thrown into water. In the distance, the Island with its old lighthouse looks like a gigantic ship with high chimney. It is also tiny, cropping up from water. 

The Island’s reputation is attributed to the fact that it commands the Gulf coast . It is also ascribed to the famous archeological castle sitting on the island, which rose further  into fame in 1934, when it was turned into a federal prison for unruly criminals who were breaking the rules and regulations of  ordinary jails and planning jailbreak.

However, it was impossible for those culprits to escape the island, because  they had to swim  a distance of 3 km   and  to brave the deep Gulf and its serious water currents. Thus, none of those prisoners had managed to escape from the 378-cell jail.  In 1963,  the US authorities closed down the jail due to its high administrative costs and the availability of other means of tackling crimes.

Due its profound impacts on popular culture, there had  been produced three movies on the prison, in addition to  a recent  TV serial, titled “Alcatraz, which was screened in 2011. Chief among such documentaries is “The Escape from the Alcatraz”,  which was produced in 1979. The film featured the most serious attempted jailbreak plotted by four inmates who sneaked out of vent holes into the Gulf waters. However, they disappeared and their adventure stopped at this point. Authorities later said that they might have drowned.

Standing on the western side of San Francisco are more than 40 green hills as high as the skyscrapers lining up the eastern side of the city. The most beautiful of such hills is “Twin Peaks”, orNoe and Eureka”  as locals  would like to call. From the hilltop, the city looks so fascinating thanks to its  white buildings  surrounded by bright blue waters.  

The place is a tourist attraction frequented by visitors, who climb the hill through a tenuous road flanked by thickets  in order to see the city from above.

One day in care of nature:

Next morning, we will cross the Golden Gate  bridge into  Marin district. The township is home to Muir forest wherein lies  Redwood national reserve, with an area of 224 hectares, 97 of which are covered with giant  sequoia  trees. The sanctuary, which is traversed by a serene stream and an alleyway enclosed with two wood barriers, is one of the world habitats  of  the 112-meter-high sequoia tree.

In 2001, the Japanese Toyota Automakers named a type of its cars after the giant tree to symbolize the grandeur and splendor of its vehicles.

One of San Francesco’s wonderful aspects is that within half an hour, tourists move from extremely civilized industrial city to a purely natural area. It was 11:30 am when we rounded up our tour of Redwood sanctuary, a high time to move further northwards  and then eastwards, where hundreds of sprawling vineyards, from the first township in the countryside of Sonoma district to Napa valley.  

Vines are used for making the US highest quality wine, which is served either fresh or bottled to visitors frequenting parks and clubs situated in front of the vineyards. I just single out for mention Napa valley to invoke one of the most renowned wine brands in the world.

The time spent in the tranquil and enchanting scenery of Sonoma and Napa valleys and the shady Muir forest has now ended. Boisterous days ensued.

On October 28, San Francisco Gaints baseball team pounded Detroit Tigers team, winning  the World baseball championship. Indeed, Americans very serious  while playing baseball, a game  with an overwhelming popularity like that of the basketball, but it has more sophisticated infrastructure than any other game.

Therefore, boisterous festivals would kick off the next day on the city’s streets: people are turning out in groups while bearing the orange flags of San Francisco team, each is rejoicing on his own.

Boisterous days continued. However,  this time they  encompassed all Americans, as the Halloween festival, an official holiday and annual masquerade festive, would fall on the eve of October 31. indeed, Americans are more interested in the feast than any other western countries that mark the day by decorating their houses and streets with pumpkins, and buying scary toys. 

The original source of  Halloween is an ancient myth which holds that life comes back to the dead on the eve of October 31, keeping them alive up to the morning. Therefore, people wear costumes on this particular night so as to avoid being identified and harmed by evil spirits.

The festival made San Francisco so noisy that it was the first time for me to see policemen on the streets in anticipation of any possible attacks. One could hear loud screams from drunk people on speedy cars as the streets were crowded with men and women, who  changed their facial features by wearing face masks or costumes while others had tattoos on their faces.

San Francisco is not only a fascinating city, but has also been a springboard for social changes since the United Nations Organization was established therein in 1945 in the wake of the Second World War.

During the 1960s, a youth movement heralded the phenomenon of Hippies to express discontent over capitalistic values and the dominance of materialism. The movement swiftly gained momentum in the Western countries where it called for equality, peace and freedom.

In the 1970s, the city clang to its leadership flair, as large numbers of same-sex couples flowed into it in order to found “Same-sex liberation Movement”, taking advantage of California laws allowing for same-sex marriage. One can now see same sex marriage supporters  gather  at Castro neighborhood while waving their rainbow flags.

In the middle of Market street dividing San Francesco, there lies a decent historical building. It is “San Francisco Lesbian gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center”, thereby giving extra evidence that is a wide range of  freedoms in the city, the most liberal in the US. It took the program coordinator , Michelle Wright, half an hour to enumerate the community-funded  services rendered by the Center to same-sex marriage proponents. In a small parlor opposite the approach to the center, there is a large board on which written the names of those donating money to operate the facility.

While lamenting my departure from San Francisco, I took recourse to a monologue just to solace myself: What do you want more than what you have seen; five suspending bridges over one water sheet, the tourist harbor, cable cars, Coit tower, steep declining streets, the charming Gulf, the melodious musical tunes at the tourist wharf, and the fine weather still refreshing your lungs.

I voted”:

The sun of November 6 was overshadowed by dark clouds, which further made weather more colder in Milwaukee city, the biggest in Wisconsin. Yet, citizens’ schedules for this day involve  an extra activity-the presidential elections.

On a street near to Michigan lake, one of the great five lakes, there lies the Zeidler Municipal building housing a polling station. Voters quietly walk into the station to pick out the president, who would lead the US  in the next four years, and then go to work. No holiday on election day. 

At 8:30 am, Mel Bromberg from League of Women Voters was waiting for us at a hotel lounge. She then ushered us into the polling station inside the same building, showing us “election observer” badges which grant each one of us the chance of observing the US elections. Bromberg also showed us a sample ballot whereby voters select the president, state governors and members of the House of Representatives in their own districts.

Though Bromberg is a pretty old, she is extremely energetic  , as she spent one and half hours briefing us on the electoral process. She also enlisted the help of all election workers in the station to give us more details in this regard.

American voters never dip their thumbs in ink after casting ballot; rather they can even take a confetti on which written “I have voted” , an indication of their pride of  US democracy.

The race was so tight between Obama and Romney in Wisconsin, a swing state, that    Romney picked  his presidential running mate, Paul Ryan,  in a bid to win the hearts and minds of voters there. However, the state’s ten votes at the electoral college  ended up in Obama’s favor.

During the course of election campaign, there were few reminders that the highest profile vote in the world was set to take place a few days later, as there was no sign of traditional electioneering usually seen in emerging democracies.

Anyone unaware of campaigning tactics would think the race was going smoothly; however, the fact of the matter is that every and each American is getting a considerable share of propaganda of which they grumble publicly. The campaign period is a high season for telecom firms whose text messages profusely  pour into clients’ mobile phones.

Both Republicans and Democrats would coax noted US leaders into recording short voice messages, which are then sent to clients’ mobile phones with an aim to convince them vote for their nominees.

“Hello, I am Bill Clinton; I am honored to invite you to choose Barack Obama as President for our country” said  the former US Democratic  president in a recorded message , which was sent to the mobile phone of a man, who was talking to us as his handset rang. Another ring ensued. This time, it was the voice of former Secretary of the State , Madeleine Albright  urging the electorate to vote for Romney. 

At the International Education Center in San Francisco, a number of such messages disturbed Mark Dillen from the Foreign Policy Association, who was giving a lecture on the US electoral setup. Just like other citizens, Dillen resented the ceaseless propaganda messages.

Dillen also resented the US electoral systems granting presidency to the nominees who wins the majority of the electoral college’s votes amounting to 538, regardless of who wins the votes of the electoral college.

Yet, Dillen, who would enumerate the negatives of his country’s electoral system, was hopeful that the setup would change in the  future. Many share Dillen’s criticism of the system.

Visit to the Man of the Dream :

We  heaved a sigh of relief  as the plane landed in Hartsfield Jackson airport, one of the busiest in the world, after we eluded Milwaukee’s biting cold. Our car then drove down an almost 80-meter-wide thoroughfare leading to Central Atlanta city, where the famous business suburb is located. 

The boulevard leading to the neighborhood as well as the causeways give high impression on the city’s colossal infrastructure for which the hosting of the 1996 Olympic tournaments probably take the credit. 

While in Atlanta, one can never pass over  three high –profile  landmarks – Martin Luther King’s historical monument , Georgia water basin, and CNN. The milestones    are emblematic of the commercial, urban and cultural identity of the city. Close to city center, Auburn Ave splits into two  a compound  housing similar ancient buildings.

In the southern part of the complex, there erects a white limestone rectangular sepulcher in the middle of open-ended foyer brimful of propelled water. Here exactly lies the man who wiped off, through his non-violent struggle, the shame of apartheid in the US.

Nearby, there is an incessantly inextinguishable flame , a concrete evidence that Martin Luther King’s mission was still glowing, thus illuminating America and preventing a return to the odious apartheid era. We would walk a few steps to “Martin Luther King’s national historical site, where the history of civil legal movement is being put up on display at a complex involving the house where King was born, the Baptist Ebenezer church, the Non-violent social change center, and a visitor center.

 As we walked into the site plaza , a black guy was sitting on the ground, weeping. It  would be  silly to ask about the reason why. Inside the site, visitors delve into the annals of civil rights movement as well as the struggle of its leader, Dr. King, starting  from his first address till he was laid to rest.

Inside the “Freedom Hall”, the voice of the eloquent political speaker   King rises as he gives his famous addresses “The Promised Land”,  embodying the dream shared by millions of black Americans.

Pictures line up the walls of the hall documenting his struggle against racial segregation, in addition to some of his personal belongings. Inside a glass locker opposite the hall gate there lies Luther’s most thrilling personal objects: a pair of black shoes stained with blood drops coagulated thereon 45 years back, when extremist James Earl Ray shot and killed King, who was sitting onto Lorraine Hotel balcony in 1968.  

King’s  speeches scattered throughout the hall do reflect his overwhelming influence to the extent that you leave the place as if you were a black American who has just come back from Washington freedom march during which King gave his famous speech ” I have a dream’ in front of a quarter million people who gathered next to Abraham Lincoln’s monument.

One of the site facades is surmounted by a horizontal mural with drawings emblematic of King’s and his black compatriot’s struggle for equality. A few meters outside the site, there stands a statute for renowned Indian leader, Mahatma Ghandi , whose peaceful approach to struggle was adopted by King.

 “Peace be upon you, Martin”, we said and went off, as I felt rancor over the death of a man who was killed the same way as the illustrious leaders of peaceful struggle the world over.

The city of Atlanta is not only  home to giant companies, such as soft drinks company ( Coca Cola) , and global banks, but  also to   CCN, the most widely watched news network in the  world.

In the 1980s, the network embarked on transmission from aboard a Hammer military vehicle. Today, however, one cannot talk about the stupendous visual media revolution without mentioning  CNN, which has been leading other global networks in terms of using  the most sophisticated  media technology.

After Nick LeVan ushered us into CNN sections, I managed to lean  on the Hammer vehicle, which was  parked in the middle of the compound’s plaza,  and was fitted with the equipment with which  it started airing. A glimpse at the vehicle  and   the network’s offices reveals the giant strides CNN has  made in terms of   information technology.  

Inside one of the network’s news studios, Isha Sesay, wearing green coat, started anchoring the news live on air. Then, the pretty-looking program presenter, Hala Gorani, spent a short break with us talking about the situation in Syria.

Sea Ambience in Mainland:

It is easy for anyone frequenting this place to dive deep into sea while, at the same time, his/her feet are on land. It is Georgia aquarium, the world’s largest aquatic museum, with a capacity of 32,000 cubic meters of water. It is a tiny marine milieu, which is home to almost 120,000 marine species, including sharks and other kinds of  huge fish.

The aquarium has six parlors, each of which is allocated for specific marine species, such as fish, penguins and dolphins , among others. In front of the aquarium, there are small open aquariums wherein swim light brown soft-skinned and   triangle-shaped fish. Visitors can dip their hands into the aquariums and fiddle with swimming fish.  

We spent almost one hour of pastime watching penguins, snapping photos in front of aquariums brimful of different kinds of fish, and tracking seals rolling their way throughout their aquarium. At this point,   we thought that we have reached the climax of excitement. However, the guide dashed us new tickets, ushering us into a theatre hall that can hold thousands of spectators.  

We spent another hour at the theatre hall during which time what we    first perceived as enthrallingly uncommon sights have now become familiar. We also watched a fabulous show involving 11 dolphins and a team of youths, males and females, who are mostly experts in playing with and inducing dolphins to make best of shows. Induced by the youths, the dolphins skillfully performed acrobatics to the astonishment of spectators.

The one-hour show was breath-taking, as spectators were glued to the aquarium while the dolphins were swiftly flitting, making marvels. Enchanted by the show, we woke up to the theatre’s flickering lights as visitors started leaving while some performers waved their hands,  confident that they have done their job perfectly.  

Those who got access to the marvelous museum will come to know the secret behind the fact that the number of its visitors amounted to over 3 million, ten months after it was inaugurated in 2005. Now, the number of visitors is still hitting record highs.

 America smiles at you:

The best way to differentiate an American national from his fellow countrymen is to say that he/she doesn’t smile. This is because almost all Americans cheerfully smile at others.

 Perhaps, the two demeanors that all Americans have most in common are taxes and smiles. The first such behavior does tally with the US constitution, while the other is voluntary, being the kingpin of Americans’ tactfulness towards both fellow countrymen and visitors. It is also an indication that Americans, settling beyond the Atlantic Ocean, are carefree and not indulgent in global concerns.

Smiling seems to be the icon that unifies varying American faces-African,  Asians,  Europeans, and American Indians. When An American smiles at you, a feeling of mercy prevails in a country, where relentless work relationships, pressure groups and giant companies, still hold sway. Therefore, broad grins will be the first thing anyone coming back from the US territories would certainly miss. 

Whatever America looked like, you cannot help bid farewell to it, while still being charmed by the migrating people who founded the most powerful empire in history, and are currently struggling to perpetuate it.