There are so many things we Indians find different when we first come to US. And I am sure this would be true for any other country alike. And I am talking about the cultural experiences more than anything else (like shopping for free stuff, for example)
Why Smile, when you can frown?
First, these nice people smile at you on an eye contact. When I came here first, I was single and not engaged - and I used to think every other girl that crossed me at work smiling had a crush on me! Boy, it always took me a real close look in the mirror to get over that idea.
We Indians don't smile. Period. I mean, to us it's just an extra gesture - even for people we know - let alone strangers. There, you frown at strangers. And at close friends, you frown harder!
Even here in US, walking in a mall, if I accidentally catch eyes with an Indian (specially girl) and smile - boy, I am gone! I get the looks as if she saw me sniff my own toe-nail...and then lick it!
And who could miss the good ol' "have a nice weekends". We don't do that in India. For very simple reasons - firstly most likely you're going to work on the weekend. If you're not chances are the other person is. So the risks of mentioning a 'good weekend' become tremendous, so its not worthwhile..
Secondly, even if you're home in the weekend - you're not likely to take your bum out of the house anyway. Most of us, back home like to sleep the weekend away. You can clearly see a contrast in the parking-lots outside apartment complexes in India - they're jam packed on a Sunday afternoon - unless of course its a festival season and then the roads look like a big parking-lot.
How can you miss the elevator talk? We Indians just don't have any topics to bring up in elevators. We just count the dings as the doors open and stare at each other's.... shoes!
If there's a non-Indian in the elevator with a bunch of us, we just try to start a conversation with:
"So, did you have your lunch?"
"No, just going to"
"Where, to the Subway?"
"No, Quizzno's may be.."
"Oh, Ok! I go there every Friday.."
The biggest gap in the cultures doesn't show up until you go out in a public place and see a bunch of Indians 'behave' with others.
We never give-way! If there's a square-foot of visible land while walking in public, or standing in a line, we ought to claim it in the name of humanity. Window-seats in the bus is a jackpot! We claim it as soon as we're on
We don't even mind stepping over a few toes in order to take a picture of Niagara Falls.