Candid, not Candied

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Umrika Amaiyrica

Imagine making the 20 odd hours journey from across continents and time zones. Since I was a kid, though as I said I was not interested in making that a long journey, I was nevertheless fascinated by America and Americans.   This was the time when my comprehension was limited to thinking that foreign country means the one and only, USA.

The word itself had a lot of *bling* to it. Anyone mentioning that name, and I would imagine a mesmerizing wonderland. With all the facts and files stuffed into my head by someone making a passing comment about the country, I had no reason to doubt that this was a place which held magic. I can't help but look back and laugh at my innocence.

What can a child's mind make of a place where it was day when you slept and night when you went to school? I remember, in those times ["in those times" already now! :'( ], it wasn't common for people to go abroad... or maybe it was and I wasn't aware. But we rarely knew as many people as we know today who are abroad. So, all kind of news would make our eyes go wide. V and me used to go ga-ga over the details that any American return would narrate to us. There are ovens in the wall, homes come with built in air conditioning and heaters, roads never have bumps in them, 911, snow feels like heaven, every block looks like a picture postcard... and so many more things!!! And, of course, who can forget the famous Amaiyrican twang they had to their English. It sounded uber sexy than our plain desi English accent. Oh! I remember the time V told me "You know, in America, even beggars own a car." Immediately I had this image flash in my mind, beggars driving in a car to beg for money! No wonder we thought our country was way too boring in comparison.

I remember, the biggest fact that ever stumped me was the night and day funda. This was much before geography introduced the rotation of Earth etc. One of our acquaintances was here and, her parents did not have a land line then. She would call at our place asking for her parents. It was a wow moment for us! They used to have breakfast when we would have had our dinner!

In return for our favor to receive their calls at odd times, whenever they came back home, they used to bring us GIFTS. American maal was so 'in' at that time! The precious Hershey's Kisses and variety of other dark chocolates with nuts in them. V was pretty high with the idea of studyinghere. He would promise to bring me the same chocolates. Oh, how I waited for him to grow up!! (W/o realizing that I would be growing up too!)

Gifts were particularly worshiped by me. And why not? It gave me a chance to show off in school. I had these sketch pens that would change colors with a flick of another pen. It had an eraser too! I loved it. I still do, I think. Mom would warn me a thousand times not to lose it in school. She used to tell me how costly they were and I would never have another if I lost them. That made me pretty possessive about my color pens. However, that did not stop me from sharing it with my class mates.

Umm.. share? No, show it off is a better word. Who said I wanted to share it, anyway? One look at those, and the kids would be all over me to catch a glimpse of it. Lucky ones got to see it, luckier ones could touch it and best friend for the day would be able to hold it in her hand. Well that was that then! Proud presentation of gifts, smug face, being a snob to all the heavy pleading to use them once - all because it was "imported maal".

If you think I was being a mini b***h, then think again. Each one had their day of showing off one thing or the other and I would be at the begging end too. Such things spiced up our lives then. What else could we expect in a school where we had to wear the same ol' uniform 6 days a week and not have a fancy dress party like in a far far country, 24 hours away?

The reason I write all this today is because, I am finally in this country where I never dreamed I would be. Even last year, whenever I chatted with K (oblivious to the fact that he would be my partner), I told him even wild horses couldn't get me to USA. I must say it didn't take any wild horse to drag me to this end of the world but one man with extraordinary convincing powers to do so. :)

When I came to know that I would have to come here, I did not exactly give a whoop of joy. This place takes me away from what I call home, my parents and tons of memories that I have built. But gradually, I realized that my days here are fulfilling too. I commenced my new life here and may I say, it has started with a pleasant blast. Whatever good/ bad I thought about this country is behind me and I already have my "treasured moments"; making way for new memories.

I love this place as much as I can call it my home. But not so much that I will condemn my country as I have seen people do it. I have decided to make it worthwhile while I am here.

Most of the times I never find anything special here. Its like back home with an exception of a few things. At other times, when I look around, I sense wonder and amazement that I once felt. I guess the little girl in me is still alive. :D


  1. US of A.. after being there for 2.5 years I m pretty neutral. But yes, as a kid I had the same ideas.. though I never got any Imported Maal to show off :P.. when I actually boarded the plane for the first time I was TERRIFIED!!! But then things fell in place one by one.. :)
    But I am more happy I am back home !

  2. Good one, Purnima! Keep the kid alive... and don't dare sink the ship named ME ! ;)

  3. Aparna : I know the novelty wears off slowly... but the initial amazement is indeed blinding! :)

    Rachna : I just wrote aisehi all this stuff ok. Itna bhi great nahi hai yahaan kuch bhi.. tu India main hi reh... yahaan dekhne jaisa kuch bhi nahi hai... khaali phokat 25 ghante ka journey mat kar! stay there, stay happy!

  4. :)
    make the most of it... no matter where you stay...
    and yeah, yahan itna special bhi kuch nahi hai... i guess it's just being with someone that you want to be with, that makes it special :)

  5. Bingo, Rayshma! I cuouldn't put it in better words! its like "saat samundar paar main tere piche piche aa gayi" LOL

  6. Growing up even I felt America was a wonderland. And now that I've been there I know that nature has been very generous with that country. Some places look so beautiful that your eyes hurt. Our main problem is our population. Had it been as low as US's, who knows how our country would have looked?
    Every place is special and being with someone you love, makes it even more so. Enjoy your days there and have a great New Year ahead.

  7. Well Good to hear that the glamour of Umrika or Amaiyrica has not rubbed off on you unlike some others I know who totally deny their Indian identity feeling ashamed to be what they were born as. And all this in the name of "integration"

  8. Aparna : I agree completely. Had it not been following my man here, I would have never thought of coming. N Happy New Year to you too. :)

    Meera : :) I genuinely hope it stays that way. I do agree that there is a lot here that cannot (yet) be promised back home. But here it just feels like a long long vacation at a 5 star hotel... I have to get back home as soon as it is possible. :) Welcome to my blog!


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