08 December 2005
The Immigrant Vacuum!
They say beware of what you dream. It may just come true. And when it becomes true, you lose your survival instinct. The rope called survival necessity that was holding you back, suddenly disappear. And you rise above, floating high, aimlessly.
You enter the land of dreams. You make a decent amount of money. You wear nice clothes. You drive a big gas-guzzling SUV. You meet your own kind during weekends while trying to blend in with the locals during weekdays. You sit with thousands in the freeway in an orderly fashion and wonder how organized the traffic is compared to the chaos in the streets of New Delhi. You admire the strange perkiness and courtesy as they wish everyone ‘Hey, How u doin?’. Your manager is not watching your back as you browse Samachar.com for the first one hour at work. You go into meeting as your Boss makes it clear what he needs done and you go back to your seat knowing exactly what needs to be done. You go back home without too many complaints as your wife asks you, Chinese or Italian take-out tonite? Your eyes get used to beauty around u and after few months, you don’t even notice them. After few years, you don’t even appreciate them since you expect them that way.
What am I complaining about then? A good Life? A well-oiled system? Lack of Chaos? Lack of uncertainty? Boredom? I guess it’s the lack of feeling of being part of something bigger than you. Like sharing the smile with total stranger because India had just won a Cricket match; feeling the immense human energy that flows, stinks, surrounds you until you gasp and search for your own little spot in the market; riding an auto-rickshaw whose driver spouts more philosophy than Socrates;watching the passage of one rupee from one hand to another, trusting total strangers, to buy the ticket from the bus conductor sitting in front of the Bus and the extra flowers that the flower vendor throws in because you are being nice to your wife. It is impossible to be lonely in the world’s most populous democratic country.
When the materialistic needs of self get fulfilled, you grow to realize how wrong you have been in your priorities. It’s like Family. You fight your best to run away from their unjust judgments about you, from their inconsiderate taunting and when you finally manage to go to different city far away from them, you long for that morning coffee, you long for that irritable little neighborhood boy who hangs around with the cricket bat in your yard, you even long for those ‘know-all’ relatives who pop up at the oddest of hours, only to eat your share of curry and vanish! Maybe it’s loneliness that makes you long for these things since am sure two weeks back at your home, you will be longing for the quiet ‘Law & Order’ episode in your room.
There is a huge immigrant baggage that you bury deep under layers of economic and infrastructural necessities. Once you reach the threshold of materialistic comforts, you slowly begin to wonder about your acceptance in the society you live in. Sure, no one questions your place in this country but can you really BE a part of this society? The problem could very well be inside you than theirs since every immigrant wants the economic security and infrastructure of their adopted country and the matters relating to heart from their home country. And as time moves on, you are just stuck in-between forming your own unsure identity.
A new self emerges from the amalgam of your life experiences with loss from the place you came from and yearning for the lost things in the place you decide to settle. A constant nagging feeling trying to balance your needs and wants. As you vacillate between these two choices, you realize you either have to sacrifice one of them or make sure what you miss is compensated on the side you decide to stay forever.
Maybe I just need to take a trip back home to fulfill my vacuum!