I have been living in America for the last 8 years…not to mention the cleanliness and respect for system in this country is totally unmatchable….people actually stop at the “STOP” sign even at 2 in the morning. It felt very weird to me when I first landed here. I mean why stop if there are no cars coming. I had the same views about the red light. (I started respecting them after I got my license…may be after finding out that the camera clicks if you don’t). As the time passed by, I started getting used to the lifestyle of America, although I never stopped questioning. At first, I noticed a lot of fascinating things. As much as I felt prisoned in the house while I was still working on my driving license, I could feel the air of freedom around me. I could wake up late without feeling bad about it, I could make rice 2 days in a row without being judged as a lazy cook, I could read a book in the night without being interrupted by the magical power cut. It was easy to be successful here because there was no social pressure, no neighbors to judge, no relatives wanting to approve of every snack I ate and every street I walked on. I felt my inspirations growing wings and flying high to meet my engraved aspirations. I started dreaming more as if there was no end to what I could achieve in this country. For the first time in life, I could use all my potential (I felt). The fire in me started burning harder, and I could feel the heat in my hands, I was eager to do everything I could.
However (there’s always one)…As I added my years of tenure in America, I realized the adrenaline rush was dying. Once I became familiar with how things work here, I started finding patterns….patterns of existence…patterns of happiness, patterns of sadness. And slowly everything that was annoying about India started to seem like a priceless treasure. Interfering neighbors, overly sensitive relatives, old uncles-aunties walking on the street, parents acting as voluntary consultants, yoga, street dogs, beggars, the sweaty hands of the pani puri wallah, unfair brothers and sisters, never ending wedding invitations, paranthas in breakfast, walking in the rain with 3 bags in the hand, power cuts, flooding streets, overly crowded temples, the fan making more noise than the thunderstorms, the tube light that flickers – had all become a luxury and hence missed miserably.
I realize now, it’s the flaws that make life in India so interesting. And it’s the flawless life of America that makes it so boring. They’ve made America so perfect that it looks plastic. You can’t feel a thing. Plants without smell, food without taste, house without air, and people without bonds. Everything’s perfect, and so everything feels the same. After all, isn’t it our imperfections that make us unique.
Since, everyone shares the same status quo (pretty much), most people do the same things, crave for the same things and have the same kind of things making them sad here.
…Everyone wants to write a book at some point in their life…no matter how much they suck at writing, everyone thinks they’re great writers. The school system’s to be blamed for this, they make everyone write stories in kindergarten and everyone gets a “great work” sticker for it.
…Everyone wants to lose weight irrespective of their age, gender or weight.
….No one has found their soul mate and are still searching for them…in other words, they never stop looking.
….More than half of the population eat and drink more than half of their day’s meals behind the wheels. This is because they have to rush to work so they can pay for the mortage on the house so they can retire early so they can get some time to loose some weight and write that book they’ve been wanting to.
….Most people above 50 still believe that Bagel was the last most important invention made….( I feel constipated just hearing the name)
….Everyone thinks their kids are going to swim in the Olympics, play piano like Mozart, paint like Picasso or play like David Beckham… (why else would you spend 4 out of 5 weekday nights driving your 3 year old to the swimming, piano, painting and soccer lessons)
…..Everyone thinks they are not getting paid enough for them to buy their next Louis Vuitton because their jobs are outsourced. This contradicts with their feelings to end the world poverty, however, who cares.
….Everyone “Deeply and most sincerely” cares about the earth being green and would spend extra money to buy organic and “green” bullshit products. This hampers their ability (to buy their Louis vuitton), but, who cares.
So, you see, America is very flat. In its status quo, in its treatment of people, in its opportunities offered, in what it gives and what it takes. And being a hard core Indian, I am not used to a flat life. I like my spikes, of ups and downs, of bonds and detachments, of having money and not having enough, of getting wet in the rain and getting dried by the sun. And may be that’s how I am wired to feel my share of smiles…and may be that’s why, I miss India so much.