Directions (1-10): Read the following passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words are given in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
The economic differences between rural and urban America highlight its racial, political and cultural diversity. The things causing strife in America are really the same things causingstrife in countries all over the world. The ills of Urbanization. You feel it when you fly six hours from New York to San Francisco, but it really hits home when you drive cross-country. The 11-hour, 900-km drive from New Haven, Connecticut on the East Coast to Loudonville, Ohio, in the heart of the Mid-West was a window into Americas vastness. My friends and I were accompanying a fellow university classmate to her hometown to spend the weekend. Our average speed of 80kph is something most Indian drivers can only dream of. By the 6th hour, it was pitch black and late at night and all I could think was how much Americans love driving their cars. We woke up the next morning in Trump country though aside from the Make America Great Again signs on peoples front yards, youd never feel it.
Loudonville is a quaint one-horse town of 2,641 genuinely lovely people founded in 1814, 75% of whose residents voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. And perhaps demographics explain this: it is 97.8% White and has a median age of 43. The median annual household income of $42,500 is lower than the national median, $49,445. An automotive component factory, which ran from 1913 till 1996, employed many local residents. Its a rural, working-class, old White town: probably the poster child for the Republican base. And we were welcomed with open arms. Aside from me the only Indian in a 50-mile radius our group consisted of a Mexican, a Pole and most alien of all, a New Yorker. People looked at us like we were from out of town but never with any malice. It made me question the perceptions I had of rural, middle-America and the mostly Republican voters who lived there, as potentially unfriendly towards foreigners especially brown ones.
But Id never been to a community like this: the local newspaper prints every single crime committed in the village, including all parking tickets much to the chagrin of errant teenage drivers. Loudonville was folksy in the best possible way. We were visiting on the biggest day in Loudonvilles year: the annual Street Fair. It was mid-October 2016, the sun was out and everyone thought Hillary Clinton would win the election. Aside from the usual attractions at a fun-fair food stalls, carousels and so on there were livestock shows and even a tractor-pull. The residents took pride in showing off the size of their steers and their hogs and their kids. One of my graduate school professors had told me that these state fairs served an important function in American history: it allowed farmers from all over the country to meet and exchange seeds, farming techniques and ideas about how to deal with pests and disease. I exchanged a dollar for a corndog and it was great.
We had a picnic lunch at my friends family farm, following a hike in the surrounding woods. As we looked out across the sloping meadows that rolled away into the horizon, I felt far away from the world. Forget India even my university felt like some distant, unnecessarily noisy planet. We passed some Amish folks riding in a horse-drawn carriage on the way to their farm. Time moves more slowly in the countryside. Maybe thats why you feel youre back in the past. We spent the afternoon on a porch Ill never forget. It was a large wooden deck sprawling out above the grassy knoll below, like the bridge of some long-since-grounded oil-tanker. On the way there, we bought some beers at a drive-through liquor store (yes, you read that right). We were visiting my friends high-school classmate and whiled away hours looking out at their acres of land as we played with their three giant dogs and their new-born baby.
They were a military family, if I remember correctly, and the role of the military in American life seems to hit home harder when you leave the city. You begin to understand that it gives so many people a purpose and so many families, their livelihood. The rest of the world doesnt understand Americas exorbitant military spending because we see its devastating consequences abroad, not its ubiquitous presence at home. I think every urban American child should do a semester-abroad exchange programme with a rural American family during high-school and vice versa. There are some very fine people on both sides.