The Summer of ’12 – Part 2

Okay ladies, I’m back. Man, you guys can work up a lather when you want, can’t you? πŸ™‚ (PS: Pictures added to the Turkey trip in the previous post. And don’t start freaking out, the OA didn’t bother to check – yes, it’s always his fault – and the camera would run out of charge after 2-3 hours Β of use. So not too many pics anyway. Plus this trip was all about meeting people and not too much sightseeing, so all I have are pics of friends’ mugs and mine, grinning toothily into the camera . Not putting those up for obvious reasons.)

So we landed at the Dulles airport. Walked out, and were hit in the face by 40 degrees. WTF Virginia!? I know we come from Gurgaon, but hey, we’re here for a break, not a taste of home weather. Top that up with no ceiling fans in most homes and it’s deadly.

Anyhow, I’m rushing ahead. The first thing I laid eyes on as we exited, was the most darling, dimply face. My nephew Baby Button. I have to confess that I was terrified he’d be one of those babies who need space, and time etc. All those things I politely accept when offered in public but would hate in my own kids. Okay, don’t lynch me. Do you want honesty on this blog or not? So I approached him with trepidation, then promptly forgot all my resolutions, abandoned my luggage trolley and threw myself at him with all the eagerness of a puppy. Fortunately he’s a true desi baby who is as used to random strangers as the next and he put his little round arms around my neck and submitted to being slobbered all over, without a squeak.

We went home with me itching to pull him out of his car seat, all the while reminding myself that I was in a country where it was against the rules. The first couple of days were spent just sacking out at home and rolling on the carpet playing the stupidest games ever. But games that kept a 16 month old amused. I might be biased here, a wee bit… but I think he’s the brightest, beautifulest, most amazing baby on earth. There. Let’s just get that out of the way so that I can tell you all else without that playing on my mind.

The first weekend was spent at a cottage at a lake, with the Mad Sibling aka Tambi and his gang. Two cabins occupied, indoor pool, loads of babies all over the place and more food than I’ve seen in a long time. I loved how everyone just picked up and fed a baby, never mind who it belonged to. Anyone would change a diaper, any of the dads would take the kids for a swim. I guess that comes from having a small, close knit community. They see each other through the week and on the weekends obviously. I doubt we could ever do that back home. I don’t see myself scolding somebody else’s kid and living to tell the tale. Comes from having much bigger social circles I suppose. We can party every weeknight and still not meet the same friends more than once in 6 months.

I have to say with some regret, that I was a little underwhelmed by the country. I was all ready to be smacked in the face by the American Dream. All set to stand mouth agape. But that only happened in Turkey. The US countryside was pretty, but so was UK. Which left just the shopping. And with Gurgaon bursting at the seams with massive malls and foreign brands, there was nothing we had not seen before. Which didn’t stop us from shopping of course. What really bit me on the arse was the fact that every bit of cotton clothing I picked up, came from Bangladesh or India. What?! I didn’t spend my lifetime’s savings to go abroad and buy Indian maal. Why didn’t we just keep our best cotton here, to begin with? And I know the answer, so don’t start giving me 101 Economics. The OA already tried and wisely shut up when he saw the look on my face.

FYI, I’d got an MRI before going off and it shows that I have two torn ligaments and my right knee cartilage is shredded. I was told not to walk at all. But we left for our holiday and I was walking up to 10 hours a day, carrying bags etc. I’ve come home unable to move and have begun my physiotherapy. Am in a lot more pain now than I was, but I guess I have only my trip to blame for that. I shouldn’t have walked so much.

But I did. I did a lot of sighseeing and since we were short of time, we split up. So the OA went to Wall Street to pay his respects and I went to the NY Public Library. He went to an Iron Maiden concert (actually I’d have loved that too) and I went to spend the night with friends. We did a whole girlie night driving around DC, seeing the monuments by night, eating ice cream, watching movies and chatting till daybreak. None of us had our kids with us and that just took us back 15 years. We felt like we were in college. Giggling, screaming, arguing, having intense debates and then making life changing confessions.Β Many of these friends have been made much later in life – err.. yes, these were my bloggy pals.

Which made me wonder – are you still best friends with your school best friend? Is there such a concept as a best friend? I don’t think I’ve ever had one. Have your friends grown with you? Or have you outgrown and moved on and made new friends? I know, that thanks to the blogosphere and the internet, I’ve made many interesting friends later in life and I find I’m much closer to them than I am to people I knew years ago. Perhaps because I’ve changed so much as a person and have made these friends according to the person I am now. Not the joint rolling (yeah fine, so laugh at me, so what if I didn’t smoke ’em?) roadie that I was. One friend has a theory. She says we lose a lot of our old friends because they don’t want to make the effort to understand us. It’s easier to just go along with the image of the person they knew us to be. What do you think? There’s an interesting piece by the NY Times here. Says it’s harder to make friends post 30. And yes, some of my closest friends, people I can call at 2 am, are friends I have made post 30. Now what?

Getting back on schedule, I fell in love with the homes. The big windows, the lovely gardens, the airy kitchens that even I wouldn’t mind cooking in. I was a bit aghast at the amount of paper towels used in kitchens and the amount of food people just ‘trashed’ Β – why do people verb every word? Look, like I just did! Cartons of juice, milk, bags of bread, all trashed after big parties because no one has the space to store them. I thought back to our piddly efforts to conserve in India and realised that for every bit of effort 10 families in India make to not waste food, one family in the US can reverse it, without trying too hard.

I loved the way people dressed in NY – So smart, so unselfconscious and so much fun. In contrast I found DC stodgier. My brother was most offended that I found NY more fun than the suburbs – “hah! What’s to like? Queues for the cabs and the toilets”. But I am a small Β town girl who moved to the big city. I have no desire to drive to places. I want public transport, cultural events and zing. I know for sure now that I could never live in a suburb in Β the West. It’s either a big city or nothing. In NY I forgot I was brown. In the suburbs my eyes searched for another non-white face. And since I don’t drive and have no sense of direction, moving to the US would be slightly suicidal.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find I am almost an XS in most brands. Until the OA gently reminded me that I am not getting any smaller. The average American was huge. I don’t want the offence coming in now, so please accept this as a villager’s observations, and not as judgment.

I loved how people smiled and said hello at stores. In India, you walk into a store and if it’s a small town kirana shop, it’s usually some grouchy, paunchy guy who serves you like he’s doing you a favour. So I loved being welcomed with “And how are you today?” I of course would smile and take the question seriously, while whoever had brought me out would roll their eyes. My excessive desi politeness left people confused. If I knocked over a display and went to say, “I’m terrible sorry but I …” , they’d look at me in surprise. Or if I asked – “Could you please help me find a blue in this teeshirt?” they’d hasten to serve me with alacrity. Until I learnt that all I had to say was “I’m looking for a blue in this.” Amazing how you can speak the same language and still have to take a crash course in simple shopping! The few firangs we ended up chatting with in buses and tubes were all surprised at how well we spoke English, which surprised me, considering the number of Indians living abroad.

We had a few unpleasant reminders of how it pours when it rains. Literally. ThereΒ was a thunderstorm while we were there. We were at a Hawaiian theme party that night and the moment the heavens burst forth, we ran out and danced in the rain like crazed kids. Not so funny the next morning when we heard that trees had fallen and all sorts of disaster had struck, including electric lines going down. Some friends couldn’t lock their homes, others had to manually unlock garages, food was going bad in massive freezers, dishes couldn’t be done, I could go on. As the OA grinned, no one needs a generator or inverter there and there’s no jugaad option.

The next thing that went wrong was onΒ our bus trip back from NY to DC. The AC stopped working after an hour and we still had three more to go. It was the middle of the afternoon and obviously, the bus windows were sealed. The firangs began stripping down to bare essentials, pulling tees up and tucking into bras, rolling pants, sweat pouring down faces, hair matted in the heat. And there I was, aunty from a village with no options in my tights and full sleeved shirt. I sat there and wondered if I Β was going to die. The sun streamed in, baking me, and I lay limp, wondering how to phrase my epitaph. I have never, ever, faced such discomfort in my life. The bus stopped at Baltimore and we tumbled out on to a hot tar road, bare feet burning, hunting for water.

The last was my brother’s clothes dryer got spoilt. Of course we couldn’t hang clothes out in the balcony because it’s not done. So all that hot sun wasted away while we dried stuff all over the furniture. And the replacement piece had to be fitted back by my brother because no electrician was on speed dial. The OA and I looked at each other in horror as he opened up the machine nervously, no idea what was wrong or how to fix it. And then looked at him in awe as he figured it out and did it. Of course we’d have to do it if we lived there too, but we don’t have to and don’t want to, so yayy!

There were points when we missed the kids but mostly I was just glad we’d left them behind. They’re too old for strollers and too young to walk 10-12 hours a day. At the Museum of Natural History I saw the dinosaurs and felt my heart sink. It was just wrong to see anything dinosaur related without the Brat. And the OA and I, like love sick couples, became love sick parents. We made little videos and spoke to the kids right through them, doing our best to share them. I didn’t show it to them when we got back because I didn’t know if sharing what they missed out on was good or bad.

Which is not to say they didn’t have a blast without us. They went to Benaras, Orchcha and Madras with my parents. They loved the haveli they stayed in at Orchcha and Madras of course is a second home to them. Since my brother is the only other one among us 9 cousins who has procreated and is too far away, my kids reap the benefits of being the sole set of grandkids to many people. They were spoilt rotten and returned with no recollection of vegetarian fare. Egg dosas, prawn curry, roast chicken – the insane amount of protein brought them back taller, stronger, heavier, healthier and fussier. I have had to reintroduce them to plain vegetarian meals and they imagine we have nothing better to do than drop everything else and entertain them, which is pretty much what went on in Madras!

I think my happiest moments were the bookstores. I didn’t realise how different countries stock differently – the airport bookstore in Istanbul had me drooling. My SIL groaned because I even seemed to find books in grocery stores carted back a load. Yes, book post will come soon.

But what left me really heartbroken, was the Holocaust Museum in DC and the Museum of Tolerance in NY. I went to both – overkill, says the OA. And I cried through both. There are times I believe we should all be wiped out and the reset button pressed. How are we ever going to make up for the Holocaust? Darfur? Rwanda? Cambodia?

I feel like I’ve skipped over so much and left so much out. But I’m just overwhelmed by the trip. I met too many people I care too much about to blog about. I felt emotions I haven’t felt in a long while. Maybe the biggest thing was walking into my brother’s home. He left India a few days before my first anniversary and said he’d be back in 2 weeks. It’s been 8 years now. Big changes rarely come in that form. They come as small steps. A short two week trip changed his life as well as mine. Because most nights my prayers begin by asking God to move him closer to me. Perhaps what bothered me most, was not that I didn’t see him often enough. The poor child did visit almost twice a year. No. What bothered me, was that for the first time I didn’t know what his life was like. This was the first time I hadn’t lived his life with him and it jarred. I’ve come home feeling a load of my shoulders. I can die happy, knowing that I’ve been in his home, had him pour out dosas, rolled on the floor with his baby, gone on long drives with them, partied with their friends.

But nothing prepared me for the ache of handing my little Baby Button back to his mother’s arms when I said goodbye. I sobbed like a baby while he looked at me quizzically. We’d got to be best back seat friends. He had this funny way of pulling my arm across his belly and holding it there as he sat strapped in. Sometimes he’d pull my head into his little lap and pat me. He hated being strapped in and the OA and I once danced in the back seat for over 1.5 hours to keep him from crying on a long drive. My jaws ached with the funny faces I’d made but it was more than worth it to see his dimples resurface. I accidentally referred to myself as mama when I was playing with him. Because that is what it felt like. Like a third child in our old age, I laughingly told the OA. Of course kids being cruel in the way only they can, the little Button favoured the OA over his besotted aunt. The OA would ignore him deliberately, and he’d go over and pat him, try to get his attention. I wish I could play hard to get, but I’m temperamentally unsuited to that strategy. Even as the flight took off, I plugged my aching ears (I flew out with high fever and a bad cough and cold), and felt my eyes streaming and my body literally racked with sobs. It’s going to be years before we make the trip again. I don’t know if his aunt and uncle from India will be of as much interest to him then, as we were this time. I forgave the US for taking my brother. I have yet to forgive it for taking my little brat too.

Baby Button pulling me into his lap by my hair. It was his way of showing me how shitty being strapped up for 4 hours felt. I wonder who his car entertainment is now 😦

At the Holocaust Museum.


61 thoughts on “The Summer of ’12 – Part 2

  1. The para where you talk about needing to see your bro’s life…seeing his home …you nailed it.

    My sister lives in the US and till the time i visited her a couple of yrs ago….i didnt know exactly what was missing from the picture. ..and you said it perfectly πŸ™‚

    I ache to hug my nieces and be a part of their lives….and not just be a voice on the phone or a picture…but thats a reality I need to accept

  2. And since we are mad like that, the pic of Button and you made me cry. I used to think my friends and family meant the world to me – until their respective children came along. The realisation of how much you can love those little critters sometimes surprises me.I fear for my sister’s children – I am going to be their crazy aunt and I hope to hell she stays very, very close to where I am.
    Oh, and I don’t believe the best friend business either. Nor the fact that you cannot make friends as you get older. I shifted 4 schools and so I never have unending school memories to fall back on. My closest friend from high school returned to the city I live in, last year and we reconnected after 11 years -and even though I’ve changed so much, we’ve still found a lot of common ground to connect on. The bestie from college, we drifted apart. The two closest girl pals are both people I met in B- School and beyond and we have survived. I think every relationship undergoes a re-visit, every time something changes. You get married, he moves towns, she has a baby – as long as you can find time and space for each other, through the shifting priorities (and the consequent changes that happen to the other person), you will survive. Sometimes, relationships come with expiry dates and it’s okay to let them go.

    Pardon the gyan, early in the morning. 3 hours of sleep can do this to people, it seems!

  3. What do I say? Have too many things going through my mind too. All the places we visited when we were out there. We did more of outdoors, preferring the forests, wild areas, national parks and the like to cities. Of course, one always goes to places like NY, DC, Los Angeles, etc., but we did a lot more of hiking, scenic route drives, etc.

    Can feel your pain re your brother. One of my brothers, too, went for a year 20 years ago, and never came back. I knew him as a scrawny younger sibling with hungry dreams, and I have not seen much of his life, too. He comes over to India once in a few years, and that’s when I get to see him and his family. This Jan he had come for the thread ceremony of both his sons, and I went for a week, taking the kid with me, even though it was term time.

    The pic from the Holocaust museum makes it all so real, doesn’t it? The bluntness of it chilled me.

  4. LOVED this post. So many experiences, so many people, so many feelings – all rolled into one post. πŸ™‚

    Baby Button looks adorable!

    Eagerly awaiting your books post. Would love to know what bookstores out of India are like.

    My cousin sis went to the US for 3 months after her marriage, and she was telling tales of how much different life is there as compared to India. It was fun, but she said most of the times, she just felt lucky to be in India, considering that family and friends stay here and that life is much simpler here.

  5. MM

    So good to see new posts on your blog again! Been lurking a lot these months, but I’ve finally got some time to comment (the kid’s begun school πŸ˜€ ) . I know what you mean about old friends, I can barely remember a lot of my college friends, and definitely my closest friends today are those I’ve made in my late twenties! This post was really quite an interesting read , because things being the way they are, I have a few friends in the UK and US but no chance of visiting them in the foreseeable future, and you’ve written about the very things Im curious about- everyday life as it is lived elsewhere πŸ˜€

    And the love sick parent part, oh boy! I spend my days whining about how much work being a mom is, but cannot imagine sleeping away from my baby . He now sleeps between me and the hubby (used to sleep on his attached cot earlier) and the hubby actually gloats when Artim sleeps snuggled up next to him all night, because apparently I hog his snuggles!

    • Everyday life there is very nice. People come home early and spend time with their families. But I realised no one can eat a full proper Indian meal there because there is no time to come and do all that. So its either something frozen over the weekend, or a quick one pot meal. I don’t think I could do that endlessly.

  6. me first??(incredulous!!!)

    Such a lovely account of your tripa. You know I was desperately hoping for a post from you tonite before I went nighty-night because I have a biopsy early tomorrow and wanted to read something heartfelt, personal and mad-momma-ish. And I got just that. So MM thank you and the next time you’re here, you’re visiting West Coast and crashing with me. You’ll see how beautiful California can be in summer. We’ve had the loveliest weather this year.

    So happy you had a great time though. Now you can go back to running the mad house and nursing your wicked knees! And more posts on your observations of life here please.

  7. Hahaha…I love the identical “This trip was about meeting and not seeing” quote πŸ™‚
    So glad someone else gets it. Though my trip now seems incomplete without having met you.

  8. “we lose a lot of our old friends because they don’t want to make the effort to understand us. It’s easier to just go along with the image of the person they knew us to be.”
    What an interesting way to look at it.. I find that I have done this to a lot of my friends, much the way some friends have done this to me. Which is probably why I feel closer to the friends I have made later in life (more recently), and have known for far shorter spans of time. In fact, with every trip I make back home, I find I have lesser and lesser in common with my older friends, and today, evidently that is reason to make or break friendships.

    And I have been dying to visit the Museum of Tolerance, ever since I heard about it. I had a knot in my stomach and a strange feeling of frozen-ness just reading about it, and cant imagine what it might to do me if I ever went there. Trust that country to museum-ize everything, and do a darn good job of it.

  9. It was overwhelming for me to read. Your accounts are always so heartfelt and emotional. I’d cry if I visited those museums too. And I’m so sad I couldn’t spend more time in NYC when I was there. Good you did. I loved it so much more than the suburbs, even I thought that our office should move to the city. But I like how they keep their cities and surroundings clean and beautiful. I like how in the suburbs they dont have compound walls around their properties. I’ve only stayed in one place which didn’t, not sure if its the same elsewhere. But New York simply made me so happy. Baby button is very cute. And the second pic reminded me of various world war movies. I’ve cried through and after all of them. We can’t make up for what happened then, no matter what we do.

  10. I totally get the fixing your dryer on your own. Recently did that when a part broke off and came into my hand. Simply super glued it back on. The things this country teaches you, I tell you. Thanks for the pictures. BB is supercute. Ask his mom to do the drishti pottu ritual πŸ™‚

  11. Dear MM, Finally, part 2…
    glad you enjoyed the visit to NY… I so so love the place..
    ” Maybe the biggest thing was walking into my brother’s home” such a beautiful,poignant statement. I felt the same when I visited my brother the first time.. the kid whom we grew up with owns a house and has a family.. it seemed a little odd at first for me!!

    since u so love US please try to relocate – btw thambi too lives here πŸ™‚

    Please take care of your knee – seems like a serious problem..good luck with the treatment.

  12. I loved that bit about buying desi stuff from the US. It’s a nightmare to pick up any clothes to bring back as gifts from anywhere abroad because everything is made in India. Like your in-your-face style of writing too.

  13. Ha! Funny how different the tourist experiences are for the same city.

    I am from the DC area too and have my BIL’s family visiting (with kids) and they loved the place enough to want to move here. May be its the duration (they stayed for entire summer, so their travel was well paced) or that they were from a developed nation themselves (Hong Kong) – but they settled in very comfortably.

    I’ve seen many Indian consultants at work, here on short-term projects, that have similiar experiences like u did – they are surprised to find made in India clothing, hot summers, abundant variety in salads etc. The beauty of East Coast is that it gives you a different experience depending on the time of the year. Oct/Nov showcases the gorgeous fall colors along the Potomac, plaids and stockings, soups & stews. Jan/Feb has the biting cold and wispy snow, chunky sweaters and knee high boots. Watching the magnificient Lincoln as snow blankets everything in his vicinity is a sight to behold.

    Power failure & bus breakdown – Argh! You managed to experience in 2 weeks what I havent in 15 years here πŸ™‚

    • Yep! I had it all stuffed in to 2 weeks. I don’t think its where you come from, so much as what you want out of life. I don’t like the sort of sanitised experience the US was. Every suburb looked the same, the houses were identical and the shops were the same. I like the variety other places offer, like, say Turkey or even England. It’s fantastically clean, has all the seasons DC has and all the big stores too. But it has a certain character, history, a feeling that each space is individual. I loved that.

      I enjoyed the US for a holiday, but I felt very handicapped by the lack of public transport in smaller places. To live there wouldn’t suit me at all.

  14. Im making this a seperate comment so you can choose whether to publish or not.

    I remember an earlier post about how your parents were bored when they visited your bro and now you say living in a Western suburb (like I assume your bro does) will make you suicidal πŸ™‚ How does this go down with your SIL? I would be hopping mad if mine wrote this on a public blog, but if your SIL is not that kind, I’ll say you’ve found a gem!

    • haha! then its a good thing we’re not SILs!

      I don’t see why it should offend anyone, though. We go to places that our loved ones live in, to meet them. My SIL hates Delhi with a passion (true Bombay girl she is) – and I don’t expect her to suddenly start loving it because I live here. My parents and i are very active people and when you go to visit you don’t expect people to wait on you hand on foot, entertaining you all day. Specially when there’s a baby in the house. So you go doing your own thing. But in the US if you don’t have an extra car and know your way around, you’re stuck at home. Not exactly the best situation for anyone to be in.

      This is my personal blog. The entire point is for me to state my opinion. And I’m amused that you thought of my SIL before my own brother – people are always so worried about inlaw politics! He has lived there for 9 years and she a mere 4 or so. It’s more his city than hers, right now. And of course we already had this chat with them. We’re not obliged to love places because our loved ones live there, and it would be a silly and unreasonable expectation, no?

      Different people fit enjoy different things. I love the culture and history of a Delhi or a Tinurkey. Even Gurgaon doesn’t really fit me. But I’m close to Delhi, so I survive, going back for bits of culture when I need.

      • haha! Given how opinianated we are (gleamed from some of your past posts), we’d have either got on like a house on fire or crashed and burned πŸ™‚

        I specifically did not mention your brother because I think siblings can ‘get’ where we are coming from even when we differ in opinions. But for a new member of the family, esp one who has spent most of her time away from you, it might be different.

        But thanks for being a good sport about this. I went back to remove this comment as I thought it might be borderline intrusive, but WP did not let me.

        • Or we could have respected each other’s opinions as their own, not interfered in each other’s decisions and lives, and still got on like a house on fire. All my closest friends are opinionated. I think all opinionated people realise they are not being judged for their personal choices, it’s just – an opinion!

          I see your point about a sibling, but then my poor brother also lived with the fact that I never enjoyed Chennai, his favourite Indian city. We’re used to being poles apart on most matters!

          Yes, it was an intrusive question – I don’t like to comment on my relationship with my family beyond what I willingly share, but you put it politely and I respected that.

          Peace out πŸ™‚

  15. ” There are times I believe we should all be wiped out and the reset button pressed.
    How are we ever going to make up for the Holocaust? Darfur? Rwanda? Cambodia?”

    We can’t..we can try to not repeat it. But we seem to fail there as well. I am with you on the reset button! 😦

    On a happy note…glad you had a good Holiday. Now rest that knee and take care of it.

  16. Ohhh yeah, the car-seat entertainment thing totally rang every bell in my heart. Two months back, i was in the US with my baby niece (now 2 years old) and took it upon myself to entertain her through all the driving we did in Utah. We had an absolutely GALA time, and i don’t think I’ll ever again have such a wonderful road trip. Hurray for besotted aunts! πŸ™‚ Link’s here, if you’re interested:

  17. Glad you had a good vacation πŸ™‚ You packed so much in 2 weeks! Now, please take care of your knee.
    I don’t have the courage to visit the holocaust museum because I know, it would depress me for months. Would like to see pic of you, when baby button sought the OA’s attention. Kids do have a way of getting us, don’t they?
    Can we please have a post on the Brat & the Bean πŸ™‚

  18. When I was a kid and had just moved to the U.S., I read up everything I could find on the Holocaust (cried myself into a miserable sleep), visited the museum a few times (stared in frozen horror)- and I still cannot believe that something like this could have happened in reality. It sounds like something out of the Avengers or a dystopian universe- with a Big Bad. My mind just simply refuses to wrap itself around it.

    Also, you were in D.C.? I cannot believe you were in DC and I didn’t get to meet you. I have been reading your blog for 6ish years now ( since I was a college freshman) and you’re like a writing rockstar to me! Next time, next time =)

    • I’d have loved to have met everyone but I didn’t get enough time to meet some old friends and I’m still getting angry mail from them 😦
      Thank you for that last line πŸ™‚ Made my day.

  19. Sorry to lurk.. after all this is a ladies only post.
    Glad that your trip was good.. and more glad that you didn’t like it over here.. it would have been a Indian calamity πŸ™‚

      • Hey.. look at the first line of your post… I felt like a voyer.. yet I continued reading.
        About the calamity thing… that was just to evoke a responce… and I got it

        You should have texted me when you were in NY… I would have made reservation for just the two of you at a very sought after place… Kahir, fir kabhi

        MM, the way I see it is that for most people ( the one’s who are financially comfortable), the US is not that attractive… unlike europe ( London especially). But it does grows.. slowly. It took me almost 18 months.. when I started to like the solitude and the free time in the evenings and the public libraries.. ( See this was in early 90s).

        • You hit the nail on the head. People who go there earlier in life find that their money gets them a better life than it would in India. That too 20 years ago. Today India has everything money can buy, for the rest you order online or go on holidays πŸ˜€
          For well established couples like the OA and I, it makes no sense. We earn well, live well, have our family and friends around us, need nothing more. This is a great time of life for us to be in India. I’d love the public libraries and the free evenings. But the solitude would kill me.

          • True … Bang on !!!
            I know friends in India who have been offered coveted profiles in companies like Google, Amazon, Microsoft etc and have happily declined the offers and work for the same company/similar profile in India. What is strange is some people find it so difficult to believe that people do and can reject US. ( I remember long ago you had written about OA rejecting US offers and there were comments on lines of “that can’t be true”).
            What Arun said and you added on – People who are financially comfortable and/or moved soon after graduation are the one’s who usually like the US.
            For example both hubby and I are from families which can be called middle class (I feel Indian middle class is a very confusing term because people who don’t own cycles to who own santro’s fall under the middle class); we had a decent living, got oppurtunity to great schooling (thanks to the pro-socialist 80’s) but did not / could not afford any of the luxuries. US helped in making the unthinkable a reality. I won’t say dreams come true- because while we were in high school or college we did not even imagine in our wildest of dreams that some day we will travel the world, make so much money or afford the luxuries many of which we did not even know existed. This is true for us and millions like us – I have met people from humbler bakcgrounds than me who are now financially comfortable thanks to the liberalization, Dollar dream, IT boom – whatever it is called.

            Your brother and family have such a great group of friends – and I should say the equations they have is not very common in US either….Like everywhere else parenting is a touchy topic here as well – E.g Our social circle is a group of 20 or so folks and their families who have been together since undergrad days and hence know each other for 15+ years …. We meet almost every weekend and celebrate birthdays, anniversary’s, weddings, baby showers, xmas, easter, diwali, Eid together … go on camping or cabin stay getaways – but changing other kid’s diapers (unless you are babysitting and the kid’s parents are not around) or scolding other’s kids is still a no-no.

            take care of your health

          • Glad you had a great holiday MM. You know as a well established couple who can easily relocate to US, I deal with this dilemma everyday. Family, festivals, easy life or the mind boggling cleanliness, organization, and general american manners. An average indian on the road is so agressive. In fact even the kids are … and I just don’t want my kids to learn that agression. I want to teach them to smile when they meet someone’s eyes. But I don’t want them to grow up isloated from the extended family too. With every passing day, I get more confused 😦

            • I think that is a choice each family has to make for themselves depending on where they live, how much family they have around and how important it is to them, job opportunities, social circle and dreams. I think I found what Ramya above said, a very Western way of looking at resident Indians. Its not as though coming from a more developed country makes it easier to move. It is that those who have moved to developed countries have already made the choice to move out of India – moving here or there after that is irrelevant. We’ve made the decision to stay in India, with the good and the bad that comes with the territory and cleaner roads or shinier shops don’t hold much attraction. Definitely not more than knowing this is home and we’re surrounded by our countrymen.

              I know brilliant IIT-IIm types who could have any job for the asking and gone there far more easily than many of those I see there from b-grade colleges. And yet they stay on here because we LOVE home. I don’t know why that is so hard to understand. that not everyone wants a sanitised but rather lonely, scheduled existence instead of our mad, warm chaos. its a choice. And i’d think twice before assuming everyone aspires to it.

  20. This post is so full of love, fun and craziness. Although I am yet to experience how it feels to have kids of your siblings around you, after reading this post, I am very much ready for it πŸ™‚

  21. Yes. Chaos. That is what my firang house guest absolutely loves! She is roaming around by herself in the chaos of Avenue Road as I type this and sending me texts as to how much of character the whole place has, and that she’d love to move to India!

  22. Oh my dear MM, I came here after ages… and this post made me laugh and cry in the typical MM style…hugs πŸ™‚
    and I cant agree more with your friend’s theory.. that people don’t want to make the effort to change the image they have of us…I remember the first time,I went back to India,I was so excited and looking forward to reliving old times..but times had changed..and with that,everyone’s lives got busier..we still had a lot of fun.. only in smaller doses..does that even make sense?

  23. Its interesting reading all the comments. (not that your post was not interesting πŸ™‚ When I tell the desis, I am from SIngapore, they gasp and ask me why would I want to move to USA when I can live in Singapore. I found that strange. I also have heard in the past 3-4 years of so many people moving back to India(but after their citizenship πŸ˜‰ and have decided to stay put.

    I am still bummed we couldnt meet 😦

    PS: I was somewhat hoping that the trip here would convince you to move out. I see thats not the case. Did you go to any thrift stores or flea markets?

  24. Welcome back MM, lovely post as usual and I hope your knee gets better real soon so you can take more trips and write about them. πŸ™‚

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