Sunday, August 14, 2011

Starting Again

The absence from this space has been so long that when I logged in today, I found that Google has changed the entire Blogger interface! Like my other hiatuses, this one also has been characterized by an extended period of what I like to call 'eventful living'. Graduation and goodbyes. Travels and transitions. In that order, actually. There have been too many things I've wanted to write about. But the irony is that I don't know how to begin. 

"So where are you from?"

I don't remember if I've written about this earlier, but this is no longer a simple question for me to answer. Sometimes people are more specific (like the girl in the leasing office of my apartment) and ask "So where are you moving from?" Two years ago, when I was introducing myself to the three hundred other classmates, it was easy. Well, easier. Start with India and then ramble a bit about growing up in a small town in Eastern India and then spending time in Delhi and Bangalore. But I realized, some people wanted an easy to remember, 2 second answer. So I stuck with Kolkata or Bangalore.

Since moving to Texas, I mostly say Virginia. And if the conversation goes on for over thirty seconds, I make sure that I put in the 'have been in the US only for two years' part. To which, surprisingly a few say, 'Oh! just two years? Your English is really good!" 
Now, my English has been or less the same as it was when I was in India. Sure I've started to roll the T's and the R's and stretch the A's. Mostly so that people understand me. Not to put on an accent per se. Anyway, I take it as a compliment, say thanks and continue blabbering.

Then there's the occasional encounter with an Indian American or somebody who happens to know more about India that I would think he/she does. So my standard 'I'm from India' leads to a duh!-you-really-thought-I-couldn't-get-that-from-your-accent-and-skin-color look, I laugh awkwardly and proceed to talk about my journey from Kolkata to Bokaro to Delhi to Bangalore. 

Point being, it's not an easy question to answer. Not anymore. 

"What do you think about the US of A?"

This is not as frequently asked. But is probably harder. My answer? I give a very standard one. 
I like it here. I think the social infrastructure is great and makes life easier. Technologically, this country is way ahead. But I miss the spontaneity of India and the fact that I'm far off from my parents and a lot of my friends. Nowadays, I add the fact that how pissed I have been with customer service at most places - from AT&T to car rentals to IKEA and the fact that things work great here when there is no human intervention.
Depending on how long the conversation goes, I talk about how I find it very 'sanitized' here. About not enjoying baseball at all though starting to like American football. About missing being out of touch with cricket and all the festivals back home. And more.

But on a deeper level, what do I think about this country? The two years so far have been tremendous. But how much of it was the cocooned atmosphere of Darden and Charlottesville where everybody is nice and considerate? Then again, a lot of my preconceived perceptions about this place have changed. Some for the better. Some, not so. 

Anyway, I'm curious. To anybody who has been here for a while now and happens to read this blog - what would your answer be? And no, don't start talking about the debt ceiling and White House, please.

"Do you think you would go back to India?"

This is almost invariably asked by my non-Indian Darden friends. It's actually the easiest to answer. Right now, I mean.
I really don't know. I think I want to. But for the next 4-5 years, I've got this student loan to pay. After that, we'll see where things stand.
And it's probably the most honest answer. I mean I find it hard to plan 5 weeks in advance, so how would I know!


Kendall Wallace said...

wow....i didn't know someone had a blog....dust in the wind, hunh? good name, but you might have some competition from where's wallace.....:)

p.s. love your entry

Atish said...

You don't know a lot of things about me ;)
haha.. thanks for visiting and about "where's wallace" - love the name.. if only it existed :D

Julie said...

Wow, Atish, I can relate to so many of the things you've talked about in this post, even just from coming from Canada.

As for what I like about the US, I would say Hulu and Pandora. Everything else that I find different from Canada is are things that aren't worse or better, just different. I find I've adapted to the US way and it definitely shows to friends and family back home. (mainly, I am way more aggressive now than I was back then... Of course, the US is probably less aggressive than India, AND it could be due to the MBA rather than American culture)

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