March 16, 2012
Far from home
Far from home, friends and folks, a very long tiring flight journey …for a first timer like me it took some time to believe I was in the US of A. It was the same country which I saw in the movies and appreciated for there, the sky was bluer and the grass greener.
For an immigrant, first time stepping out of India and landing in the USA, one of the world's most ethnically diverse and multicultural nations, was like a dream come true. More and more as a young Fulbrighter it is one of the biggest achievements in my life, a pinnacle of glory and hope.
While driving around in the US from the dry desert Arizona to a concrete jungle Atlanta, I always had a feeling, I have seen this place before and keep wondering where, only to find out that it was duet song location in an Indian movie, my desktop wall paper or in an internet postcard. I wasn’t able to believe that I was there.
Day to day routine after all this load of surprises…. the first month in the US, I felt like I was in an alien land. I saw polite, cool, amiable, healthy, fun loving, hard-working, respectful, intelligent, law-abiding people. I saw people who said “please”, “excuse me”, “thank you” and “sorry” every now and then. I had to move around with a lot of caution from crossing roads to fixing up an appointment with my mentor. I had to be careful, when I opened a door or closed it. Everything was systematic. Many things that I took for granted in India, were not the same there. I had to be careful while using words, my habits and mannerisms. I had to groom myself overnight, to fit in and adjust myself to the other side of the globe.
Cookies replaced Dosa’s and burgers replaced Idlis. Cheese replaced desi ghee and diet coke substituted water. Wall Mart and Fry’s were my grocery and vegetable store. Counting calories became a part of my everyday life. Salwar & kameez became an ethnic wear and faded jean and T-shirts a regular wear. Shorts and torn jeans that mom wouldn’t allow me to wear in Chennai were all useful in the US.
Weekend started on Friday afternoon with a group of friends. It was a get-together with a cup of beer or a sip of wine. Saturdays were always full of activity. Hiking on a nearby trail or it would be driving to explore the neighborhood cities. Sunday, I wouldn’t miss church. The church was just not about worship, it was about community programs, bringing about change, and making a better tomorrow.
I felt good with the fresh new sense of freedom. My senses opened up to this totally new world. This is the world on the other side of the rainbow, where I was able to experiment thoughts and ideas unknown and unheard! I started to love myself, the new ME, I discovered in the US
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