Remember a time when any interaction with an American sales person entailed "have a great day and how are you today". It felt artificial, was vaguely grating and one was normally at a loss as how to respond coming from a country where the salespeople grunted that at you.
Well those days are over folks. It is no longer ‘morning’ in America and more like ‘mourning’ for an imploding economy.
The economic pain is everywhere and it seems the only incentive the workers have is that they have a job. And, in a country which has officially enshrined "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" as the inalienable right of every American, they are bewildered as to who moved the goal posts.
When things go badly for us, we at least have the consolation of karma, bald though it is, but as you wander the streets of New York, the reality of a declining economy in free fall hits you hard. Uncollected garbage, homeless people in the street, policemen in uniforms as old and grimy as the provincial armed constabulary of Uttar Pradesh.
Great retail names such as Macy's Bloomingdales with toilets filthier than a pit stop on the Jaipur highway because cleaning and maintenance are now deemed a luxury.
This generation which has to now pay the debt of 13 generations is angry. Upset at picking up the tabs for senseless wars, America, always an insular country, is in total retreat.
Entire blocks are empty as businesses shut down. Manhattan - once the shining dream of every American and wannabe American is like a ghost town. And, currently the greatest hotel there belongs to a man named Sant Singh Chatwal. Which itself is quite a telling indication.
So what went wrong? There are no easy answers, only a sullen and singular desire to be in denial. After the banks collapsed and the sub-prime mess, the bills for Afghanistan and Iraq started coming in; it was almost like Atlas shrugged. America has now decided that it has had enough. It wants out. And, the wonderful spirit of it can only get better has vanished.
As an unabashed America lover, it makes me sad.