Lost in deep thoughts, I was busy packing my baggage with an expression less face .But I was not at all surprised to see the happiness on the face of my wife. She was all excited ever since I broke the news to her that I may have to travel to states soon. I had tried to set her expectations in the past 3 days but the excitement for first foreign trip is always there in mind of an individual, I could very well relate her state of mind which I had for my first overseas trip some years back.
I had disclosed about my travel plan to very few people. 5+ years in the IT industry and my previous foreign trips had taught me enough lessons that projects get scrapped at the last moment and all the travel plans go down the drain. And along with it the sheer excitement, happiness and various fantasies one creates about the trip. It is very difficult to digest such news especially someone like my wife who has never been through the taunts and comments of the people ( especially relatives ) who will leave no stone unturned to prick you to the core why your trip got cancelled or why the project end midway of your estimated long duration of stay at onsite.
This was my third foreign trip in last 5 years and I was in no mood to travel at all. Had not been the majbooris of life I would never prefer to go abroad.Last time when it was a year ago, just before marriage I had vowed never to come back to US, at least for working (Travelling as a tourist was fine). But soon realized life never works as per plans we make. My company had been constantly pushing me to travel client site but I had always refused citing personal problems.
With moist eyes and pain of departing from my near ones we departed and reached USA.Soon life became a routine, travelling between office and home and I was in my previous workoholic avatar.
I have never loved this place and the more I am staying here the more I am missing my country.
What hurts me more is when people write comments on my Facebook wall, send mail telling as
“Tum to Dollar chaap rahe ho ”
“Aish kar rahe ho Guru “
“Zindagi ke asli maje to tum hi le rahe ho ” et al.
But believe me not by any fraction I am Happy here. Had it not been a career issue and other reasons I would have never cared to come to this country.
There are many reasons why I don’t like this country , some of them which I would like to highlight here:
1) Miss those chai ki tapri : One thing which I miss most is the CHAI KI TAPRI or chai ka khokha where we would stand with our colleagues or friends and discuss topics varying from Cricket, politics, economy, boss , Bollywood etc. It is also hot spot for chilling out the day to day tension. And an avid tea drinker like me misses such scene the most.
2) Miss the roadside dhabas : Travel and journey can never be complete without the roadside dhabas. You simply park your car/bike, wash your face and sit on a charpoy parked at roadside. Chat around, relax, rejuvenate and again move forward. No amount of Mc Donald’s, KFC, Five Guys or SubWays can match these fun in India .
3) Miss my friends, family and relatives :Here life just revolves around office and home. You are lucky if you have some Indian friends in the same project or in the same society you are staying. But they may never replace your true friends. These people may come close to you while you are in USA but it’s very much likely they will lose touch once you come back. Well exceptions are always there and I too have very close friends out here but again very few.
4) The great Gr$$n Card Dream: Most of the Indians I have met here don’t think beyond green card at all. Every second Indian has dreams of getting a Green card and settling in states. They may try to showoff of missing their nation but from beneath they are in so much of fascination of the facilities, infrastructure and especially the dollar that they don’t want to return back. Surprisingly these are the people who curse and abuse India & Indians as such.
5) Feel like unwanted or an alien: Though we may be terming ourselves as IT professionals orhighly skilled resources but the truth is Americans still look towards us as “CHEAP INDIAN LABOURS” .We are perceived same as Indians perceive poor Bangladeshis or Nepalese working in India, just to earn some money for a decent living. Fear of law makes them treat us in somewhat decent way but there will be several instances where you will realize what they think about you. Body language speaks a lot and shouts loudly at us “Go back you morons, we don’t want you here”. I have heard such statements in reality when they shouted in fit of anger & frustration. And believe me at that moment you feel like giving a punch in the face of that idiot, pack your bags and catch the first flight back home.
6) Freedom for many Indians: One of the many interesting excuses I have come to know is – INDEPENDENCE.I agree that this country gives space to everyone and respects their privacy.The most funny excuse I have come across is from married individuals especially girls, who say they were fed up of post marriage ceremonies and invitations from their relatives. Almost every weekend and sometimes weekdays in India they had to constantly travel to their relatives place for dinner, lunch and other functions. Travelling to onsite provides the break and privacy they were so much coveting for.
7) Cut off from the culture: In my view it’s easier to bring up kids in India than in USA. The most important constituent of upbringing is our family and spanking. Unfortunately it’s prohibited by LAW. Parents are not allowed to beat their own children and are put behind bars if they do so. The kids never have that respect inculcated by fear and have no knowledge about Indian culture as they grow up since there are no family elders to teach them values.
The term ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) most aptly fits in this scenario to define them.
8) Life is too simple and easy that I don’t feel any challenge in day to day activities.
In India from the moment you wake up, go to office, work, come back and sleep we face n number of challenges. Right from your house maid, traffic rage , MCs BCs, #^%#^%,handling challenging resources at work, handling clients, handling traffic and climate, to handling everything provides so much of challenge and fun that it keeps us occupied all the time.
It takes 30 min to travel 50 km in USA whereas it takes 2 hours to travel 22 km in Noida. What to do in rest of the time is the question for many like me?
9) Miss the festivals of India: No amount of celebration with people of Indian community match the fun of celebrating festivities in India. The charm, the madness, the excitement which builds 10 days before the festival is beyond words .The colors, light, dancing on the streets ,water balloons, dholis , bhangra et al is surely missed. Yes I miss my family the most in such times.
10) Sad news from India sends a chill down the spine. In the past 5 months I have heard 2 sad news in the team where team mates lost their parent. Though we feel bad on hearing such News but it gives chill down the spine because somewhere in the corner of the mind and heart we all fear that something similar may happen to us and pray silently to keep our parents safe, at least till we are in a foreign country.
11) Everything is so plastic here : No true feelings. Though people are law abiding citizens but the care and sympathy is not natural. It’s good to follow rules but sometimes the FUN element comes in breaking few rules too. Isn’t it? We cannot even think of doing so here.
12) People may show care and concern but it may be short lived and momentarily. Everything Is measured in terms of profit and loss ( the basic Capitalist framework of this economy).Believe me or not I have found Americans more helpful as compared to Indian settled out here. NRIs have an air of attitude whenever they see any Indian. They fear that the Indians may ask for any help from them sic.
13) Less respect for elders: Most of the Americans leave their parents in old age homes at the time when they need their kids the most for emotional support and care. Thanks to this culture of Independent lives, adults leave their parents as early as they reach High school and are least bothered to return back to their parents. I can’t even imagine of doing so.
There are other positives too about this nation but at the same time I would like to stress that I am not against settling in USA. It’s about the satisfaction and happiness. I believe one should be far sighted as far as peace of mind is concerned. We should not risk our happiness for short term gain.
Getting a Green card is just a temporary phenomenon. What next after that? What matters most is happiness on day to day basis.Leaving the country where you are born,the people with whom you have grown up,the culture which has deepely ingrained in your genes,the motherly and fatherly affection which binds you and the patriotic feeling which empower us can’t be easily forgotten.
After all it’s the small things in life which give us more happiness than million dollars in a bank account and ferrari parked in the garage.Isn’t it ?
NB: The views expressed here are personal but would love to discuss and debate about your views too 🙂