Pride

No matter where we live, there are always things to complain about; plenty of people to blame. It is human nature. Different culture, different place, and different values – yes, things are different when you live abroad, different from back home.

No matter where we live, Indians are good at adjusting and adapting, and ultimately competing toe-to-toe in every aspect of life, in every corner of the world. The same applies to those settled in USA.

Success is a part of Indian culture. We strive to accomplish high goals; we fight to prove ourselves. It is in our blood.  Just look within US boundaries: two reigning governors in the highest state offices, countless Indians in NASA and other prestigious research facilities all over. The same is true for a large portion of highly skilled occupations – doctors, scientists, engineers…. the Indians are everywhere in America, in every walk of life.

There are plenty of things to complain about. But, there are plenty of reasons to be proud of, if we look around!

Indian American population in America is a growing and prosperous section of US society. If you get the chance to walk through the corridors of any leading US corporation – banks, medical offices, engineering firms….., you will notice that Indian Americans hold every level of positions including officer and executive jobs. Indians are contributing to the US socio-economic dynamics from every aspect. The numbers and ratios of Indians employed by the leading companies – the like of Google, Microsoft, Apple, Citibank…. continue to grow. Continue reading “Pride”

The gold pendant

She does not know her real date of birth; nobody does. By her own accounts, “I was 12 when India became free; when England split Punjab into two parts….” The date on her passport is as random as a weather forecast from a medicine man.
In her 70s, she has outlived all of her siblings, and one of her own sons. Her eyesight is fading. The arthritis in her hands bothers her only during winter chills, “a little pain here and there is good for you; reminds you that you are still alive!” Ups and downs of life don’t affect her much.
She is happy; she learned compromises over the years; she learned how to be content, how to adapt.

Her son greeted her at the Toronto Pearson airport. They hugged, for a long time. With moist eyes, she looked around.
“Where is Anita?” She inquired in Punjabi, the only language she can speak.
“She is still at work maa!” He replied in Punjabi.
“How about Jessie, my little angel?”
“At school, should be home by the time we drive there. “
She looked around – a brand new place, a brand new country.
“Let’s go home maa!” He interrupted her thoughts.
‘Home’, she said to herself, ‘I left my home in India…how many homes one can have!’ she chuckled at her own thoughts. And then, she said out loud, “We need to get two boxes of sweets on the way!”
“Maa, there are no Indian stores on the way! Plus, we don’t eat much sugar anyways”
‘Canada – Strange country’, she looked around, again….

They arrived home. Anita and Jessie, greeted his mother at the door. They hugged, for a long time. Her eyes filled with tears of joys at the sight of her 12 years old grand-kid. She hugged her, again. In a strange way, she felt at home!

After the tea and some rest, she opened her suitcase and took-out a gold pendant with a small diamond in the middle. She had it custom made for Jessie. Handing her the expensive gift, she embraced her her gently.
Jessie took the pendant, looked at it for a long time, as if mesmerized. She hesitated, paused, walked over to Anita sitting in the love-seat.
“I don’t want it, mom!” She handed over pendant to her mother. Continue reading “The gold pendant”

The Life Abroad – I

Life. Life is a sequence of seasons – winter waiting for spring, summer-heat longing for autumn. Life is a picnic in the playground, with bread crumbs scattered all around, attracting the pigeons and crows alike. Life is daydreaming and being satisfied with the resulting illusions.
Life. Days spent surfing the net, wandering in the shopping malls, driving to the country side, watching an old tv show re-run, to relive the past – life is what we never thought it would be.

He was 23 when he migrated to Canada – big dreams, bigger illusions. University of Toronto campus was his home for next 2 years – long sessions in the engineering labs, studying for exams until 4AM… working on the gas-station during week-end… His father, a small farmer in Punjab, sent over money regularly, but that could barely support his tuition.
He shared the apartment with 3 other Indian students – it was cheaper that way, more economical for student life. A few times a week, they went to the Dixie Gurdwara; not because they were religious, – half of them were not even Sikhs, – you just cannot beat the free food from the ‘langar’ – the ‘common kitchen’. Continue reading “The Life Abroad – I”

Misplaced Nostalgia

With big dreams, with full imagination, and with an empty pocket, he left India.

“Success”, he told himself when he landed in USA; he was twenty-six.

Since he was a little kid, just like every other kid in his town, his ambition was to go overseas. That is how he was raised.

The culture, the people, the society, and the way everybody was …… everything was different, very different. The life in California was not what he had imagined.

But, he adapted.

It was a big adjustment over the years, many compromises at every turn. In spite of all that, he did not complain much; after all this was his own decision – going abroad.

All those days, all those years  in America, he felt homesick. He missed the life he had left behind. The childhood memories, the old friends, the open fields – he often day-dreamed the life that used to be.  At times, he felt empty inside. He wished he could go back; go back to his real home, his real life.

He worked hard. He made lots of money; a lot of money if you think in Indian Rupees.

The recession came; he lost his job – the high paying engineering job he took for granted. He looked for another job, half-heartedly. No luck. Perhaps he was secretly wishing not to work in US anymore. Continue reading “Misplaced Nostalgia”

Just a job

“You can easily find an Engineering job in your field in America… no problem for a smart guy like you…”
“There is no shortage of work for Indian Engineers…this is just the fact…”
“You will find something – something good, no problem….”
….. Back home in India, just like any typical Indian family, everybody was full of advice. Everyone had told him that it was very easy to get an engineering job in America.

“You can make lots of money in a few years”, His future father-in-law told him at the time of his engagement 3 years ago. A year after that, he was married to Anu.
He used to be very optimistic about his career in USA, so was the rest of his American family – his in-laws.

He had big dream. After all, nobody dreams small.

Once in US, he was greeted by his wife and her family and they welcome him into their home. His old classmates, now living within driving distance, came to visit him.
He was treated like a guest for many months. However, he soon realized, you cannot be a guest for too long. He had to figure out the next step – the job. With all the expenses and cost of living, he needed a job soon. His parents and siblings back home were already calling to check on him; to see when he might send them some money, like every other NRI does.

After a few months, the tone of the advice changed:
“You just need to try a bit harder, maybe try something in lower pay scale to gain some experience…”
“Find a way to get your foot in the door…”
“My cousin started as a technician; now he is the director of engineering…but they are not hiring…”
“You cannot give up…We never give up…”
“You will find something – may be not that good but something… something good….” Continue reading “Just a job”

911 – The Emergency Call

The firm knock on the door made her jump. Even though she was expecting this knock, the police arrived much faster than she had imagined.

She looked at her husband; he was pacing nervously in the far corner of the living room. They exchanged a brief glance – both of them nervous,… beyond nervous.

The officer knocked again, this time much harder. Unwillingly, she walked to the door and turned the knob without making a noise.

A tall RCMP officer in full uniform was standing at the door, with his hand cautiously placed on the gun holster.

“Mrs. Sharma?” The officer inquired.

“Yes… Yes!” She said twice; her voice barely audible..

The officer peeked inside the house before actually stepping in. He spotted her husband standing motionless in the far end of the living room.

“Ma’am, I am Officer Wilson; we are responding to the 911 call…the emergency call” He said; he turned his head and looked around the house, inspecting the premises while still standing at the door.

She did not say anything in response.

“Is that your husband? Mr. Sharma?” He looked at her husband with a piercing gaze.

She just nodded, without saying anything again.

“Anybody else in the house? Any kids?” Continue reading “911 – The Emergency Call”

Her first job in America

“Are you going to bring the girl with you?” Hira asked right away.
There was a long silence at the other end.
“I was not planning on it.” Rajiv replied.
“Okay” Hira said after a pause.
“I was going to come over by myself this morning….if that’s okay with you.”
“Come on over, we can talk!” Hire said and put down the phone.

Hira Patel got up slowly. Rubbing his eyes, he dragging himself out of the large wooden chair. His dark brown shirt was tucked inside the khaki rumpled pants, over his protruding belly. The receding hairline made him look much older than his age of 45. Warm air from a small electric heater next to the chair made him sleepy; he did not realize he was dozing off.
He looked out of the window into the deserted parking lot. Then, he checked the the coffee pot next to the reception desk and walked back to the chair.

“It is so chilly outside, and it is not even December yet!” Rajiv said as he pushed open the door and walked in.
“Yes, the winter is coming! How are you, Desai Sahib?”
“I am good, not bad. How is the business?” Rajiv walked over, they shook hands.
“Slow, very slow! Nobody is spending like good old days!”
Rajiv looked around.
“Have a seat,” Hira gestured to the empty wooden chair that Rajiv was already walking towards. “Do you want some coffee? It is freshly made.”
“No, no!” Rajiv replied looking at the big coffee pot with white plastic cups and a sugar jar next to it. Continue reading “Her first job in America”

The Tea Time

“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.

After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Two week.”
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“Yes…sir”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
“Last year”…..
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs. Continue reading “The Tea Time”

An interview with Anna Hazare

An Exclusive interview of ANNAJI – ‘Father of the Modern India’

This post is a guest contribution from Shweta Nagpurkar Saxena, based on her recent interview with Anna Hazare.

The video is an excellent glimpse into the mind of Anna Hazare. This is an unbiased interview with no strings; straight forward questions with straight forward answers including a vital message for every Indian – home or abroad. As always, Annaji’s message carry a sincere appeal for everybody – to love and support your Motherland no matter where you live.

Here is the Youtube link to Shweta’s interview with Anna Hazare! Continue reading “An interview with Anna Hazare”

Yes, Life is different here!

Living Abroad – Different strokes for different folks!

Yes, life is different here, very different!!

Here, people come from all over the places! They have different skin tones, different heights. They walk different, they talk different. Some have local accent; others are outsiders for sure. Some speak in a monotone while others are too dramatic in every expression. Some stand still and deliver their opinion in a quiet but firm voice, while others use their hands and gestures more than their tongue.

Some dress sparingly and reveal everything, very outdoorsy to say it modestly! Others are too covered, as if protecting themselves from a wintery chill, even in the summer months.

People speak so many different languages here. Just walk down the street and you will get an earful of gibberish dialects for sure; many of those you have never heard of!

Yes, life is different here, very different!!

The food choices are quite interesting, or strange. Some like it plain and others, spicy. Some eat only vegetables while others hunt for meat. Some can afford it all, while others live from hand to mouth. Some like it exotic and show off their feasts while others struggle to feed even two times a day. Continue reading “Yes, Life is different here!”

The Indian Mangoes abroad

The Indian and Pakistani Mangoes in USA!!

In Indian continent, mango is the king of the fruits! Banganpalli, Chausa, Dasheri, Kesar, Langra and so on – there is no shortage of the different flavors and mouth-watering varieties as you move from one part of the country to another. This ‘fruit of the gods’ is taken for granted in India, Pakistan and neighboring lands.

From king of fruits to just an average fruit – mango is just another fruit in the western countries. As you step outside the Indian continent, you can still find mangoes. In USA, mangoes are sold in many fruit shops and grocery stores. However, these are not the mangoes that grow in the Indian orchards; these are not the same mangoes as the ones you once tasted on the roadside stalls in India. Yes, these are mangoes, but not your Chausa, Dasheri or Langra.

The most of the mangoes sold in US and Canada are locally grown or shipped from Mexico. Many of these local mangoes leave much to be desired. They don’t taste the same as the ones from India, unless you have never had Indian mangoes, or perhaps you forgot the taste of the years. The Indian mangoes are much sweeter, mush more richer in flavor and much more… umm… let’s just say ‘tastier’. There are some things that you cannot really describe. You won’t know the difference unless you try them for yourself. Continue reading “The Indian Mangoes abroad”

USA welcomes prospective students from India

United States welcomes prospective Indian students
US Embassy Press release; July 28, 2011, New Delhi

“The United States is proud of its record of welcoming foreign students, and in particular the numerous Indian students who enrich America’s academic communities. The number of Indian students who have applied for visas to study in the United States increased by 20% over the same period last year. This increase is an indication of the dynamism of the Indo-U.S. partnership and the strong people-to-people ties between the two nations. It also reflects the desire of high quality Indian students to pursue a world-class education in the U.S.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the free resources offered by the U.S. government and fully research the academic options available to them. The Embassy is to provide accurate, free information that allows students and their families to research schools and to protect themselves from visa fraud rings. All legitimate students have a fair chance to study in the U.S.

As always, the U.S. government urges all prospective students to fully research their chosen educational institutes and have a firm grasp of what is and is not permitted under a student visa. In particular, all students must be aware that any of the following will result in an immediate violation of status:

  • Lack of physical attendance at classes (taking only online courses is not acceptable)
  • Failure to maintain a full courseload
  • Unauthorized employment

Violating the terms of a visa can result in deportation, arrest and even a bar on future travel to the United States. If any educational advisor or academic organization suggests that such actions are permissible under a student visa, we strongly recommend students contact the Embassy immediately in order to prevent committing visa fraud. It is the responsibility of the student to ensure that he or she is in accordance with the law. Continue reading “USA welcomes prospective students from India”

Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!

Sometimes, the answer is right under your nose. Most of the times, it is better to eliminate the middleman and go straight to source. This post is intended to lead the horse to the water; drink or not, is up to the horse!

Non Resident Indians, the NRIs – home or abroad – always have so many questions about the rules and regulations that apply to them. Quite often, they start by calling some lawyers – the lawyers that are always bombarding the NRIs with their monotone commercial during Indian TV shows – the middlemen!!

If you visit the National Portal of India website and go to the Indian Diaspora section, you can most likely find the answer to most of your questions – right there, under your nose!

The questions like:

# Can NRIs and PIOs open an account with Indian banks?
# Is registration of NRI marriages compulsory in India?
# What is the fee for applying for PIO card and OCI card?
# Is there a limit to the number of investments for acquiring commercial properties in India?
# How can an NRI or PIO adopt a child in India?
# What is meant by OCB?
# What are the investment options for NRIs in India?

This article introduces you to the website directly – you know, horse and water – rather than cutting and pasting the answers here, use the direct links below for accessing the related info! Pick your own dish – all you can eat, for free!! Continue reading “Indian diaspora info – all you need to know!”

Too educated to be kicked off New York train or racism!

This one is juts plain weird!
“Do you know what schools I’ve been to? How well-educated I am?” A picture is worth a thousand words; how about a video!!

Here is an incident involving a brown woman traveling on New York’s Metro North train, recorded by a fellow passenger. Obviously, she is telling the train employee that she is too “well-educated” to be told to quiet down and not use profanity on her cell-phone. The video shows the employee explaining to another employee that she asked the passenger to stop using the “F-bomb” in her cell-phone conversation. The train employee happens to be black.

The whole thing is sad and the attitude of this ‘self-claimed well educated’ woman is somewhat strange, to say the least. You can watch the video on the YouTube here:

We don’t know if she went to Harvard or Yale, or even if she is really Indian Noting that she has looks of a south Asian or Indian American woman, the observations range from ‘a plain idiotic’ to ‘a class issue’ to ‘a racial discrimination’.

Here are some of the comments (warning: some comments include adult language):
“…a case of interactions between blacks/browns based on perceived differences in socioeconomic status. Some sociologists do attribute that to “white-washing” and differentiating oneself from “them”…..”
“What we have here is a brown woman who thinks being rude to a black woman is going to make her less brown….”

“THIS LAND IS THE WHITE MAN’S LAND…”

“These INDIANS are coming over, taking American jobs, getting a chance to leave their wretched country for a better life…..and on top of that they have ATTITUDE!”

“it’s really sad that you got thumbs up for your bigoted comment when a) you don’t know if she is indeed of Indian descent and b) she obviously is American yet you’re the kind of mouth-breading cocksuckers who tell people to go back to a country with which the only thing they have in common is ethnicity. She’s a bitch, sure, but she doesn’t speak for women, ivy leaguers, Indians, or wherever the f* you think she’s from. Crack a f*ing book sometime.” Continue reading “Too educated to be kicked off New York train or racism!”

Why Indian/desi guys find white women more attractive!

Human relations are complicated by nature; there is always something deeper, something more than meet the eye. Inter-racial relation are even more complex, even though they have been around for ages.

A previous article discussed Why white women find desi or Indian guys less attractive?. Now, ask the guys from India about White woman. No matter what these white women think about the Indian guys, the desi dudes hold no grudge against them. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

So, why is it that Indian guys find white women more attractive? There is no simple answer; at least nobody admits that it is so black and white – or should be say ‘brown and white’!

1. Fair skin attraction – First thing first, it is a culture thing that Indians prefer fair skin, especially on a woman. Many attribute this to Bollywood where almost all the leading actresses have milky complexion, but fair skin preference goes way back, even before black-and-white flicks took over Indian cinema. Many of the matrimonial advertisements often include ‘fair skin’ mention or requirement. The white women win hands down, if you just go by the skin color. So, this is good first impression, to start with! The fair skin criteria goes beyond the Bollywood actresses, and is common among all India cultures – home or abroad.

2. Stronger sense of independence – Compared to an Indian woman raised in an Indian society, a white woman from West is much more independent and self-reliant. In western culture (Western, as in Europe and America, not as in cowboys), the women have much more say in their personal decision-making, compared to Indian society where families dominate and control women’s upbringings.

3. Less family control – This is more of a continuation of previous point. The women from India are often controlled by the family in many important aspects of their life, including selecting a life-partner. So, the family interference is much more in the case of Indian women, and this is a turn-off for many guys – even by desi standard! Continue reading “Why Indian/desi guys find white women more attractive!”