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!


Misreflection said...

Not an immigrant myself but somehow can relate to what you're saying as I moved away from my home town to settle in another city approx 14 yrs ago.. the first 5 years I missed everything I'd run away from , now sadly I don't want to go back not even for short visits.. maybe it just takes time and more conditioning.

MotoRama said...

I sure hope so Misreflection!I think once u have enough friends with refrigerator rights in the place u live,it really doesn't matter where u live since u have folks to fall back on :)

sen said...

Beautiful post.well articulated.

MotoRama said...

Thanks Sen!Love your blog too!

~ Sri ~ said...

Ahhh... Well expressed!

This post emotes the desi perplexity to the full.

Aptly put.

Cheers. :)

Parvati said...

@MotoRama: Methinks that India is at fault. If we had had the infrastructure and the economic security that you find abroad, then every Indian needn't be in an internal no man's land. They could have had the cake and eaten it too, by living in India itself, like the Americans do. Live in their own country and enjoy a good, economically prosperous life in an infrastructurally sound nation.

MotoRama said...

Thanks Sri!

Hi Parvati,
Reminds me of the quote.."India is Great; it is Indians who needs to rise up!". You're right that our country lacks the infrastructure but what is more appalling is the apathy towards the social ills!Maybe we can blame it on each one's survival necessity but we can't be proud until we have kids working and begging! If you go down the page you will find "Top 10 zombies in India". If we can eliminate the top 3 problems(according to me ofcourse)..i think..we can have a society that we are proud off instead of going back 5000yrs to be quote greatness of the country!

asuph said...


Since these are very personal thoughts, I won't comment on them. But I'm glad you put this up. I like to read such honest ruminations.

any answers change over time, and I'm sure you'd go through that process through, indeed going thru it. so far as you've not stopped asking the difficult questions, you will grow richer, one way or another.


MotoRama said...

Thanks for dropping by Asuph!I like the way you wrote the last sentence.I guess settling on an answer, even though briefly, gives peace for that period!

Priyamvada_K said...

You've pinpointed the very feeling I had no words for - the uneasiness, along with what's triggering it.

Thank you for that perspective. I looked at the blurb of the Refigerator Rights book. Was interesting - we need to form our own communities, to the extent possible. And make time for that.