A Gujju’s American Dream

A Gujju is a creature also called as a Gujarati, known for their awesome food and stringent mindset. From time unknown a Gujju has had few basic ambitions in life. One is to do their own business (main aim to earn lots of money to be more stringent about and to not work for anybody else). Second is to go to America. Time has changed but these dreams remain the same. Mostly every household has at least one member living in America. With time the boundaries have changed and the Gujju’s have expanded their dreams to Canada, Australia and New Zealand to name a few. But America stays in the heart of any Gujju.

Well, I being a Gujju have temporarily shifted base to the United States of America. No-no; I had no plan to stay here but my brother has been here for some years now and it was time for me and my parents to visit him. Despite of the fact that I never wanted to leave my home-town, I am now engaged to a person who also resides in the United States of America (As they say, it’s not about the place, it’s about the person). So sooner or later I’ll have to permanently shift my ass here.

Arriving here in America as a first timer, I had lots of observation. Some things disappointed me, basically failed to impress me. When people got to know that I am soon flying out to USA, honestly, their excitement level exceeded mine. Their “Ohs” and “Ahs” made me feel so dull. Anyways so I flew out somewhere in April. First time in an airplane – check; foreign destination – check; low excitement – double check. I figured the low excitement level had two reasons, first that America is too hyped in India and second I had seen it all in movies and stuff.

I was right, as I had seen it all in movies and all I wasn’t as alien to the ways here as expected. I wasn’t wowed about it all. I knew that you had to push a button while waiting on the curb for signal to turn red so you could walk across; even though the button basically does nothing. I knew that you had to tip each and every person (which broke my Gujju heart). I knew that one simply does not shout or honks down on the road as we are so accustomed to do in India (I frankly miss the traffic noise of India).

But yes I was more of a house guest here than a tourist. So I had stayed at home here as much as I had travelled here. And as against people’s expectation no, no one goes to discos and clubs or are out partying late at night every day. Most extravagant and extended plans are formed for the weekends. But America is not superior or inferior to any country. It’s just different here. America isn’t something to be intimidated of. Of course as an Indian or an immigrant a person has to stay in fear because of the visa status. This is what I found the most annoying. Many people want to stay here but stay in constant fear, and well, the Trump situation has only made matters worse. To each his own!

Not everything here is bad as well. I mean sure it can be a onetime tourist thing to satisfy the travel bug in you and to put it off the checklist. I saw two states very minutely. Both are very different. Boston is more like a Karan Johar film, larger than life picture with big and old palatial homes and sophisticated people (majority of them clad in suits). Whereas New York is more like a Madhur Bhandarkar film, lots of people, commotion and shows the real face. I enjoyed the small eating places, new food (even though I miss the sev-puri, dahi-puri type food), and people performing on streets more than the touristy spots. So I won’t go in detail about all that.

But I want to share all the small annoying things that make India definitely a better place to stay. Basically people come to America with the dream that you become independent. Here nobody will interfere in your life, no one will comment on how you dress, what you wear and no one questions you. THAT IS ACTUALLY TRUE. No one asks you anything. Imagine putting on a 100 bucks dress and do make-up to kill for and literally no one asks you. As opposed to India, you cannot simply knock on the neighbor’s door and ask for an onion or a cup of milk just because you are in the middle of cooking and realize that you haven’t got it at home. It does not work that way. If you are not working or studying, you are honestly cooped up in the house entire day. Basically, have to wait to your significant other or your children to come home so that they can take you out. Ironically, one comes here searching for independence but gets everything opposite of it.

The thing that bugs me more than anything else is that you wake up in the morning and have to find the perfect balance of hot and cold water to wash your face. It still takes me a couple of minutes to do that every morning. The kitchen here is built as per American cooking style which is not as elaborate as Indian cooking style. So first the problem was of the gas temperature, as most homes come with coil or hot plates. Initially, most days the food got burnt. Then comes the so good machines to make life easier – the dishwasher!! Sounds god sent, right?? Let me tell you a secret, it doesn’t work for Indian style cooking. I mean sure all the plates, crockery gets cleaned there, but only after you rinse it once. But all the non-stick pans, pots and cookers are a big no-no. All the grease and sticky leftovers won’t get cleaned in the dishwasher. So, since here I do the dishes a couple of times every day. I did not even rinse them when in India. For that we had our god sent maid. I now understand her importance. Again, you do the laundry and the ironing. I just can’t shout “Vinod” from my veranda to call the “Ironman” of our society, to ask him to take the clothes for ironing. Gosh! We Indians are so pampered and spoilt. Then the using of tissue to wipe your tooshie, the bra-less girls walking confidently down the road or mostly nude girls standing at the Times-Square and other stuff does add to the cultural shock for any Indian, especially if you are travelling with your 60 year old parents.

Sure, America is all clean and non-polluted and Indian streets are as dirty as a garbage can. Sure, here if the neighbor gets married no one even comes to know about it, while in India we can hear what time our neighbor brushed his/her teeth. Sure, America is all silent and India is known for its hustle-bustle. For me India is the best place to live for any socially inclined person. America just didn’t appeal me as much as there is no human touch here. Sure they will exchange pleasantries and talk to you as if you are the most special person but it is all empty.

And the worst is that the Indians here are the most selfish, rude people I’ve met. The American dream is as empty as it is beautiful from the outside. In other words, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Blocking Writer’s Block

Laptop fired up. Spectacles perched on the nose. Deep breaths taken. Mind cleared. But no words come out.

Thinking about what topic to write on. Since I started writing the blog, I’ve had people come and tell me it’s so cool. No, not because of the creativity or voicing my thoughts; but because they think it’s so easy. It is thought that it is easy to be a writer. What does a writer do? Sit at home; Sleep; Eat and be merry; put up the legs on the table and write. That doesn’t sound that difficult, now does it? Whereas others are stuck in a 9 to 5 job. Well let me just tell you, it’s not as simple as it looks.

Technically I am not a full-time writer. I had a job that I enjoyed. It was fun. It was a typical 9 to 6 job but some days I spent almost 10 to 11 hours there. Somehow I am now at a stage where I had to leave the job and have some spare time on my hand (6 to 8 months mostly). I can’t begin to say how much I dread it. But well, no option! So it all started then, everyone started saying you’ve got time, pick up writing as full-time. “It’s so easy,” they all said. But what they don’t get is, if I don’t have anything to do, no activity, how am I going to get ideas/topics to write about?

Also then I am not a well-established writer. I am just taking baby steps at it. It’s just what I started to do because it made me happy. So now with nothing to do all day long, I have drained all my creativity. All that is there is bottled up anger. A writer gets inspiration from happiness, depression, imagination and anger as well. But this anger has given me writer’s block.

Writer’s block is when the writer wants to write but is unable to. My block comes from the point that I come from a country that easily get offended at pretty much everything. India is a place where most things are run on basis of one question only, “Duniya wale kya kahenge?” (What will others think about us?) Then comes the people i know – family, friends and acquaintances. What have you written? Why did you voice it publicly? And so on and so forth. Whatever topic I think of writing now comes from my anger and then I have to ask myself will somebody reading my post be offended? What will my family have to say? So my writing goes down the drain. The bottled up anger leads to inner frustration which ultimately shows in my behavior. I am angry at everything and every person. It’s a very unhealthy way of living.

Well I don’t want to stay that way anymore. I will write to my heart’s content and about the topics that make my heart sing. Maybe I’ll be the field of sunflowers or the deserted alley. Maybe I’ll write about happy topics or on dark twisted plots. I’ll give my heart whatever the hell it desires. I am forever more blocking this writer’s block.