Abstract Chatter

Coming to America
April 12, 2017, 10:08 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Cab Driver: This sh*tty enough for ya?
Prince Akeem: Yes, this is perfect. 

Oh, we’re back. To the land of the free. Home of crawfish, BBQ, queso, and tacos. Back to Texas, the only state where the flag flies as high as the flag of the US of A. But before writing about this reverse culture shock, I wanted to be sure and jot down some of my final experiences in India.

While in Bangalore (sometimes referred to as the Silicon Valley of India), we were waiting for our Uber ride early one morning in the rain standing next to a mini-temple. Almost everyone who passed by gave a little dap to the shrine. Some simply acknowledged the shrine with a nod while others stopped for a few minutes to say a little prayer. I don’t know how many of these pop-up temples there were around the city, and how often people felt inclined to say a prayer before every temple they walked by– but it was so interesting to see this level of spiritual consciousness in one of the fastest-growing metropolis of India.

Flight attendants in India remind me of images from the period show Pan-am. It’s interesting to see women enter the labor force and the types of positions that are made available to them. I say, “made available” because there are still so many barriers to entry that I suppose women are tackling the “low hanging fruit” which seem to be defined for them. Positions include those in childcare, education, and hospitality. Oh, and maybe the grocery store. While at the supermarket, there was a job description calling for females under the ago of 30 to apply. Now, I might have viewed this as discriminatory, but maybe on the local market, they’re viewed as opportunities to allow women to break into the various industries.

I came to India with very little background on Tamil culture and tradition. I’m leaving with more questions than answers. One thing I do recognize is that we all protect our culture and traditions. And defend them with our lives.

I loved seeing women in India ride motorcycles. That type of mobility really opens up access for women to work building autonomy an independence. Before we left, a policy was being debated which would provide a 50%+ subsidy for women to buy mopeds. Of course, this might just mean that the men buy  (and keep) the vehicles, but it seemed like a thoughtful gesture.

We’ve been through a lot. So much has happened here from the 2015 floods to the cyclone, to the denomination of currency, to the death of the chief minister, to political unrest. All in a matter of a 18 months. But the privilege of money and blue passport has shielded us from most of it — minus some of the announces and inconveniences.

But its all mental. It’s crazy what you’re able to deal with when your mind has accepted it. We had an end date in sight for leaving India and my mind starting to think about what’s next. Maybe it was premature, and it felt like one foot was in India while the other was in America.

The dichotomy of the rich and the poor seems greater in India. For once, I experienced what it meant to be an expat. A completely different experience that that of Egypt where I had little connection and very little wealth. But I can say that being an expat teaches you humility–if you let it.

I never imagined that i would be allowed in .. to see the country, to explore and travel to the historical sites, and to eat the amazingly delicious food. But as the marketing campaign states, it’s incredible India.

So long. Until we meet again. If the Ministry of External Affairs deems it so.