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Touching Roots            

Touching Roots            

The issues that I went through with my own culture grew as I did, and when it came time for the standard college age, there was an expectation from my parents that I would go to University, and I would follow in my fathers footsteps, become a doctor and progress our family. Instead, I began a relationship with the epitome of a white woman, grew my hair longer, and began working as a roofer. This of course let to a lot of contention between myself and my parents. There would be no way that any son of theirs would become a roofer. But for me, I found I liked the work, and that I didn’t really want to be stuck in some boring office doctor’s job that wouldn’t make me happy.

That seemed to be the last straw for my contention with our culture from my parents though. They decided that I needed to understand exactly what it was for us to be who we were, and from where we were. So they decided it was time to book a flight back to India, and for me to get a better idea of the place that I seemed to ready to abandon. I remember being dreadful of the trip, thinking of all those people, the smells, the crazy lifestyles, and I’m pretty sure that I even altered all of my memories from that area so much, that everyone there would just be a walking caricature of who they really were.

When we landed, we went to go see family, we went to temple, we did tourism stuff, as it was also the first time my parents had been there since I was young as well. And I’m not going to go into some big revelation story where it was the most beautiful place I had ever seen, and there was some giant spiritual awakening, I had learned that it was very different from what I remembered, and the place that I had envisioned it being, but I also learned, that I was happy with my life in the US, and that I was fine with not being a resident in this busy bustling city. I like the quiet nights in Louisville, and the people, and even some of the racist stupid jokes I made at my own expense, I was happy with my life.

But I also learned that I didn’t have to totally abandon that part of myself, the roots of where I came from, cause it really wasn’t all that bad. The food was good, the majority of people were really nice, and there was some really beautiful sights to see. It’s a country rich in history and steeped in culture, much like my new home country, and I could appreciate both for what they were without having to automatically dislike the other. Maybe, if you’re an immigrant you may feel the same, or feel you need to hold on tight to your heritage, but the truth is, you can have both.

What’s In a Name            

What’s In a Name            

I remember when I was in my early teens, there was a moment of revelation for me when it came to the idea of who I was in the country. You see, prior to this, I had never been exposed to Western movies. The old John Wayne films that seem to be required watching for any young American child. But through finally being exposed to one, I remember being thrown off by the concept of cowboys and Indians, because I was Indian, and the people on this film definitely were not. Through a little research and reading, I started to learn why the term came about, and wondered why it was still being used in the way it was.

I would talk to some of the local kids, and it would be humorous to watch their minds try to wrap around it too. Because when you mention an Indian, back then anyway, not so much in recent history, they would always have the same conjured image. It led to a point where I didn’t want to be associated with that moniker. It really seemed that Americans had a dislike for these Indians, and no matter where I looked, I couldn’t even find any walking the streets. Now, of course looking back, that was a really naive way look at things, but I was young and naïve at the time, so there’s that. I would stray away from groups playing that particular game, because I knew who I would be grouped in with, and I didn’t want that association.

Everywhere I went, people would talk a lot about national pride and patriotism, and I felt that it was something important to have, but to be fully honest, I wasn’t too proud of where we came from. The city was dirty, there was too many people, and if we liked it so much, why did we leave? These were concepts I had a lot of struggle with growing up. The nail in my mental coffin was the accent myself and my family had, which was the constant source of ribbing from fellow classmates, made especially popular when the Simpsons became especially popular. It seemed that our culture was a joke, and I started to get in on laughing about it. I would overly enunciate my accent in certain situations to get a laugh out of the other kids, not realizing that I was laughing at myself the whole time.

Most of my school years went like this, laughing at my own culture because I was trying to fit in with a new one. The stuff we did back in India was weird, and worth laughing at. Worshipping cows? Why worship them, when you can worship the tasty burgers they get turned into? It was a very confusion and tumultuous time for a young kid to go through, and my parents were more than a little disheartened as my dislike for my own culture grew, and they didn’t know how to help.

A Whole New World            

A Whole New World            

You may feel crowded living in a major US city, with people everywhere bustling about, being stuck in afternoon traffic that slows to a crawl, or simply trying to get your shopping done over the holidays. But when I first moved to the States, the only thing I could think of, was how much space everyone had to move about. How you could walk down the street without livestock getting in your way, or heading out to do a random daily task and not being met with swathes of people crowding every street corner, at all hours of the day or night. This is what life was like in Bombay.

Mind you, a lot of these are memories from when I was really young, and when everyone around you is already a giant, having those numbers of individuals multiplied exponentially, it was really difficult to get my bearings at any time. My dad was a doctor, working in one of the major hospitals in the area, and my mom stayed home to take care of me and my sister. We would spend many days heading out to the market, going to school, and trying to get by in an area where it seemed like there was four people living in every cubic foot. When I was finishing my last year of elementary school, my parents decided that we were going to move to the US and try for a life there.

From seeing movies, and television shows, especially those set in big places like New York, I expected everything to be the same as it was in Bombay. Thousands of people milling about from morning to night, and constantly in a state of rush and momentum. What I didn’t picture though, was living in Kentucky. Why my parents picked this particular area, I’m still not sure, perhaps it was just the job opening, but my world was turned upside down when I first saw large areas of land inhabited by nothing but crops. Sleepy small towns in the regional area that only seemed to have a couple hundred people living there. It was a wake up call for sure, but finally felt like I could stretch out my legs.

Of course, there were some other major drawbacks that comes from moving from a place like Bombay to Kentucky. The cultural life was vastly different, and barely speaking much English, my family didn’t really fit in all that much, but we were still excited to make a life for ourselves in the area. We had an entirely new location, a new country and continent in which to formulate our dreams and follow them, without needing to compete against a million other people for scarce few opportunities. I suppose this is why I write this blog, for anyone wanting to know more about what life as an immigrant is life, or for those who are thinking about making the move themselves, to bring enlightenment and maybe some useful information.

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