Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Indian Student Abroad

I had crossed the threshold of my home on a fateful day in July, 5 years ago, with a head full of dreams and a heart full of hope.. My soul had soared and my feet had danced with excitement.. I came to the Americas in pursuit of my destiny.. I was dazzled by the pristine cleanliness and efficiency of everywhere I looked.. Here were airconditioned rooms, microwave ovens, swimming pools and huge department stores. Here were the scones and doughnuts from my english story books.. Even the greenery was so vibrant and untouched by dust and soot.. Here was freedom at last and an infinite scope to achieve, all the good things.. As the days rolled by, the glamour faded away. I can hardly remember now, how I spent the five past years in the US...

Here, amongst strangers who have grown to be my surrogate family I have learnt to huddle together, often not through choice.. I learnt to trust and mistrust.. made some friends and then got thrown apart from them by the slightest change in circumstances.. guess we are too old to make new friends anymore.. it is now my wont to be a passive onlooker while sojourner buddies metamorphosed into someone-i-used-to-know. How many passed me by! Just keep busy went the common wisdom and I followed it to the letter. Separated by an insurmountable barrier from mainstream society, I feel abandoned by friends and family I knew back home. Birthdays, graduations, weddings, promotions and then occasional lonely musings of what the hell went wrong with me and the nasty little voice of what did he or she do right.. not knowing whether I have funding tomorrow, not knowing whether I will have a job when I am done with this, not knowing if my old parents will survive to see me fulfill our dreams...

Of course you cant tell at all from looking at my confident ways.. thanks to a deep rooted sense of self preservation, there are no breaks in the front I present to the world!

We are intimate bed fellows here who dont intrude upon each other's private hells - a strange cocktail of the east and the west. We call before we visit a friend, have turkey at thanksgiving and party at Halloween. We smirk at health consciousness and hold close the Indian tradition of oil and spice. We champion the ability to abuse a priviledge, returning used items after months of purchase.. Our chilvary dries up when we meet a fellow Indian, the newly learnt custom to greet 'Hi' is hardly ever performed for one of our own with as much zest.. seldom look at each other in the eye.. never park your car near other Indian cars fearing a 'dungdang'.. If an Indian student produces extraordinary work we are quick to suspect plagiarism! Same faces, same jokes, same food, same bitchings, same insecurities.. united we stand in our sameness.. but thoroughly divided we are in our hearts.. But just ask an Indian if he is proud of being an Indian.. but of course!!! what was I thinking ! We are always bursting with patriotic pride. We frown upon westeners when we congregate and lecture on Indian values espousing all that we
were taught to value in the orient.. And yet in our body language there is this strange hankering to be accepted by the Americans.. a shameless hankering for which we value their opinions more than our own...

I miss my dream.. its now in tatters as I round one corner and the next. Visits to India form the high point of my life and even that is hollow as I grow more and more estranged from the India I used to know...

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