Monday, March 7, 2011

Gearing towards switching Continents

As the "EXIT" doors of Boston's Logan International Airport slided open on a "chilly" April 18th, the 23 year old newly married me from a hot and humid south Indian state felt alone, naive and strange. The car ride with SN's buddy from Logan Airport to the apartment where SN used to live with a friend felt longer than the trip from India to Boston stopping over at Amsterdam.

As SN sat in the front passenger seat and talked to his buddy about things I could barely understand, I was sitting behind him in the back passenger seat looking at the image of his face on the front rear view mirror. Outside my window was this beautiful city just like I had seen in posters while back in India. The car wasn't just going, it was floating in the flawless road, and I was very comfortable riding in that car, or so I should have been. But all I could think about was the rural part of the Southern Indian state where I grew up where you could even see some unpaved roads. Suddenly tears started rolling down my eyes. I hadn't had a clue how this almost stranger and I could lead a life together in this perfectly strange country. This is despite being a high-achiever with good education, a good job and despite being with SN my newly wedded husband [on an arranged marriage after 8 months of chatting on the internet, talking on the phone].

Fast forward to nearly 10 years later, here I am, practically living the life of a typical Joe the Plumber, except for rice for dinner of course. The almost stranger sitting in the front passenger seat became my soul mate. I gave birth to two adorable kids. New York/New Jersey became my home. The highways, the streets, the stores, the malls, the schools, the day cares, everything seamlessly blended into my life. As the 6:30am alarm on SN's cell goes off, I'd get ready, then send kids to day care and school, go to work, do work, hate work, come back home, wish about winning the mega millions, talk about how quitting the job will make my life easier, pay bills, take care of kids, kinda take care of the house, watch reruns of Friends on WGN or watch "How I met your mother" on CBS and go to bed. Weekends involve(d) some kind of adventure PLUS the daily chores and "Desperate Housewives". If we hadn't done anything as a family outside the house, we never felt having enjoyed the weekend at all. I was loving it, I AM loving it, truly loving the independence, being able to take my Sienna and drive 1 mile and get to the center of everything. I was a natural at getting used to the US life.

Then why would we go back? Go back where? To India, of course.

Yes, after several years of debating the pros and cons, one of the decisions of New Year 2011 was to return to the home country - sooner than later - at the latest by June 2012. Make no mistake, I am not loving the idea. In fact, it scares the hell out me returning to a family of almost 200 members, infrastructure that is far from acceptable and a political system that is drowning in corruption. Not to mention the lack of uninterrupted supply of basic necessities like good drinking water and electricity. You must think we are nuts to leave the infrastructure haven we currently live in.

India is in plain simple terms is a rainbow. A rainbow of religions, cultures, political parties, languages, faces, wealth and more. With a few metros to spare, most of India is still rural, naive and under developed.

You cannot get out of the house and get into your car, without being asked by your neighbor who just moved in, where you are going. You don't answer - You will sure be labeled as the "the mean guy/girl". You answer, you are sure signing up for daily report to your neighbor about your activities. Just when you are ready to tuck the kids into bed, the "uncle" next door will come by and chat with the kids and the man of the household. It is really hard to get the "uncle"s go back to their homes. You say something, you offend them. You can't offend your neighbors, so you concede.

But the same nosy "uncles" and "aunties" next door won't mind watching your kids while you go to the supermarket and get your veggies. They won't mind holding on to your house keys and keeping an eye on your house while you are on vacation. They sure won't mind when you stop by their house to chat with them. They absolutely love the idea of being told when you are going, so anybody comes by can be told that you are away from home.

Then comes finding the roots. Yes, the long praised finding the roots theory. I don't think I want to go deep into why we think our American born Indian children will benefit from being among the Indians, Temples, Festivities so on and so forth. Every immigrant American irrespective of their religion believes that going back to where you come from will benefit your children in finding their roots. Yet they choose to remain in the US, the land of opportunities, land of the free, some do it to stay away from terror, some do it to stay away from trouble, some do it to make a better living, and yet another group stay so that they don’t know if going back will work.

India is highly competitive. Indian school rooms are even more competitive. Because of the sky high population, everything in India strictly follows Darwin's principle - Survival of the fittest. If a job opens in the state/central government, there will be at least 100,000 to 500,000 applicants. One will be chosen. The job may not even be a high paying job. But a job with the government offers lifelong stability, even after your life, for your children.

India is extremely rich, but the wealth is in the People's hands and not the governments. India has no proper taxation systems to transfer the wealth from businesses to goverment. You can see homeless men, women and children sitting next to a Ferrari parked by the Jewelry store. Go figure!

AN & BN are American born citizens. It is definitely NOT going to be a smooth ride for them, especially AN who wears Yankee hats, eats pizza, watches SpongeBob square pants and hides INSIDE the refrigerator whenever we visit India on vacation [of course because of the heat outside]. AN will need to adjust to his class where 95% of the students get A+. He will need to re-learn a lot of things he did already. He is a super speller and will have trouble adjusting to C-O-L-O-U-R color. There will be questions. There will be crying. There will probably be some throwing and slamming doors.

As for SN who has a "normal" blood pressure reading of 117/60, and a "normal" pulse of "55", it will be cool. He is a cool guy. I am sure going to have some..t-r-o-u-b-l-e-s that I can't even write about. To tell you the least, I am not going to like the fact that I have to take a driving test and then get a license all over again [with a right side driver seat! and left side driving -think England]. I am going to have to try a lot to keep my cool when I have to encounter issues that are aforementioned. But I will try. I will also keep my passport handy, in case I have to run back to US :-)

The next 6 months, we will be the preparing, backing out, trying again, and hopefully executing this plan. I will definitely take my sewing machine, just gotta figure out how to make this thing work in the 230V power supply.

No matter what, Sewing must go on. After all, that is one silver lining I see. If I miss Gymboree and GAP, I would just go to their websites, drool at the clothes, and make'em myself. Good Plan. And guess what? All of that will come to this blog. :-)

Here’s to times ahead.

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