19 Ways How Illinois Suburbs Are Different From Mumbai

I was always overwhelmed by my visits to the US and have been talking to people about it ever since my first one. For me, it feels like the place is an entirely different planet from my home country. Below is a list of such differences that I could put down at the time of this writing. I explicitly mentioned Illinois Suburbs for two main reasons:

  1. Chicago area was my first impression of the United States
  2. Illinois is still my state of residence

I did not want to term it as "Differences between the United States and India" like every few hundred miles you travel, you will find yourself in an entirely different place. Besides, I have had positively different experiences on my trips to other states in India itself.


Everything has a particular way of doing it, everything is defined and documented somewhere and the document is well within a common man's reach. Everything is organized: roads, sidewalks, parking spaces, grocery stores, etc. You will find instructions for what you need everywhere, all that you need to do is look.


Every human, animal and every single life-form gets the respect it deserves. People are treated equally well regardless of their gender, color, nationality, language or job.

Value of Life

Life is the most valued entity and that goes for all life. The smallest emergency is considered serious and you see emergency vehicles running down the street and yes, they do not get stuck in a traffic jam: people let them pass no matter how urgent it is for them to reach where they are going.

Personal space

One can do what he/she wants to, without having to worry about what others would think or say about them. People walk around shirtless and no one stares at them. That also goes to no matter how attractive or ugly you look, you would not be starred at as if you were an object. You’re free to speak your language, eat your food and wear what you want. The other thing about personal space is that people never block your way. When you even get a bit close, they make way for you so that you don’t need to push or rub against their bodies as it is a common tradition in Mumbai.


The society seems to be built on the principle of fairness. Everywhere do you see a first-in-first-out system being followed, be it a store, a 4-way intersection on a road or a washroom. People honor queues and no one’s getting late. In some places, there are no queues and people still point it out to you that you’re next to go, without you needing to keep an eye at them so that they do not go before you.

Civic sense, courtesy

People are aware of their surroundings, most of them realize their responsibility towards society and how others can be affected by their actions and behavior. Be it the people with pets, be it the drivers who do not block intersections or the ones at the billing queue who let you go first when you have only a few items in the cart.

Reversed priority

Vehicles stop for pedestrians and not the other way. Another even stranger reversal is that a person at a higher authority like a police officer refers to a commoner as “Sir” or “Ma’am”, which is exactly the opposite in Mumbai. The customer is always right, and no shopkeeper will threaten or insult you even if you waste an hour of theirs looking at the items on the shelf and walk away without buying a single item.


There is no reservation for any specific gender, race or religion except for handicaps. You wouldn’t see a parking lot without reserved parking spaces for the ones who deserve it. Apart from that, you won't feel underprivileged for the fact that you're not of a particular gender, race or religion.


There is an abundance of every resource: electricity, food, water, parking space, etc. You’d almost always be getting what (and as much as) you want.


Everything around is diverse: food, buildings, brands, vehicles, people, etc. and the best part is that no one cares. You can walk around wearing your religious/traditional clothing and most of the people around will not even give a second look, leave alone starring at you like you're an alien.


Cars here are great, and this is one of the most significant differences for me, being a car enthusiast. The number of brands that you can have here is greater in magnitudes than in Mumbai and you can drive what you like: a truck, a cruiser, a sports-car, a bike, all on the same road. The amount of equivalent currency you spend buying a 'good' car here would buy you only the most basic, cost-effective car in Mumbai. Also, the best what you can buy in terms of horsepower in Mumbai would be an average car here in Illinois. Parking your 'super-car' next to a poor man's 'car' is usual and no one would touch your vehicle, forget about people tampering it for fun.


There is sophistication in everything: cars, vending machines, parking ticket machines, toilet seats, tissue dispensers and it works! You’d find a button for everything and if you don’t there would be a proximity-activated switch. There are no excuses to not make someone's life easy when it can be.

‘Unmanned’ everything

They don’t need people to do repetitive jobs here. There is no person required at road intersections, parking lots, toll-booths, vending machines, gas stations, or even sometimes at the billing counter. Machines replace humans and that does not create unemployment here, instead, it creates employment for people from around the globe.

Nature with Technology

You can feel nature: all that greenery around, birds chirping all day long, geese walking and flying around you, squirrels running around. But that doesn’t mean there are no roads or buildings in the vicinity. It’s a usual residential space where you can experience all of this as if it is a dream or a cinematic setting.


Even though some people call it fake, a few smiles and greetings along the way can make your day. You can expect it from anyone and everyone you meet during your day: cashiers, cab-drivers, neighbors, police officers, most of the people you would have never seen before.


Apart from Mc Donalds, there are drive-thru’s for post-offices, banks, ATMs, car-washes, etc. You can do many boring tasks while sitting in your car, driving through a well-directed pathway.


You can find anything and everything in a store nearby. You would find food, clothing, gadgets, gardening, electrical, plumbing, hunting, and other equipment, all under one roof. All stores have a pet section and have self-checkout counters where you can pay by yourself. You can also pay for your items online and pick them up at the store.

Water, sanitation

Almost every single water outlet has temperature control. Fits all weather conditions and uses. All places have restrooms, and almost none of them stink.


The rest of the world here means hundreds of other countries, not just India, Pakistan, China and America. And you can get a commodity from anywhere in the world online or at a local store without any issues. You think of something you need, and it is already sold at a store near you.