Hari Katha, Uncategorized

The World Stops (Embracing Change – part 5)

In early September,

Mona and I were enjoying some brunch

Just like friends in the USA do

 

Suddenly I felt like something was wrong

I felt like that the whole had stopped

I knew that something disastrous had occurred

I could feel it

 

Suddenly, my new Nokia rang

It was Ard

Did you hear what happened?

 

My head was spinning, I did not know what was happening

Looking across,

I saw the same look on Mona’s face

Some terrorist took down the Twin Towers

It was Ard

My face immediately became as large as dinner plates

I could not believe it!

The tallest building in the world

Destroyed?

 

What would people think

When they see an immigrant like me

Who in their opinion

May look like a terrorist?

 

I gave myself a reassuring smile

I should know not to digress like that

I have been through so much

And an attack

Will not prevent me

From being a successful person

 

I know that whenever I am faced with change

I should not panic

I should embrace it!

Some context: What do you remember the most about the year you came to the US? Can’t beat 9/11, can I? I was lunching with my friend and Da had called. 

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Uncategorized

A New Hope (Embracing Change – Part 4)

Since I am an immigrant

I am not allowed to

Have a legal job yet

So I volunteer at a homeless shelter

 

On my first day, I feel like a mouse surrounded by cats

What will people make of an Indian woman?

Will they judge?

I nervously walk into the entrance of the shelter

Not knowing what to expect

 

In the shelter, there were names posted

Of people who would volunteer

 

I optimistically scoured the list of names

Hoping to see an

Arjun, Arun, Aarav, Rama or a Parvathi

 

But instead I was met with names like

Chris, Dave, Matt, Suzy, Joe and Bob

So different

 

As I got to the last name on the list

I almost did a happy dance

I read the name out loud

Mona Mehta

Finally!

A name that resonated with me!

 

As I looked at the volunteers trickling in,

My eyes fell on one

Her skin was like chocolate

Her hair the color of a crow

Just like me

As her eyes laid on me,

She gave me a wink

 

I knew from that moment

That we would be good friends

My roller coaster ride in the US

Was about to go up

Some context: came here on a dependent visa. Not being able to work was the most difficult thing to get used to. But I volunteered, and in the process made a life long friend. 

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Hari Katha, Uncategorized

A Unique Milestone (Embracing Change – Part 3)

Today is April 28

Which is also my birthday

I find it integral

To take the time

To reflect on my peregrination

From my childhood days

 

I lived in an exquisite town by the name of Trichy

Situated near Madras

 

I lived in a tall brick house

On a 100 feet road

 

I owned a twenty-inch TV

Where I would watch movies

During the weekend

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

All movies

Have actors as pale as milk

And speak with a weird accent

It is so different

 

I always put pressure on myself

When it comes to academics

For I know

What I am capable for me

Sometimes it is a challenge

Other times it is rewarding

 

As a treat

My parents

Would take me to the movies

And we would go to a restaurant

As a treat

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

My parents

Are on the other side of the world

And I am too old for school

I miss the good old days

Things are so different

Some context: What were some of your favorite memories? Watching oliyum oliyum, chitrahaar, hindi movies on Saturdays, tamil movies on Sundays, going out for movies after exams.

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Uncategorized

Standing Out (Embracing Change – Part 2)

A month after settling in America

Ard brings home a guest

 

With a face as white as a ghost

Leather jacket

Peach beard

Eyes the color of the sky

 

Ard introduces me to him

His name is Tim

 

Glad that my husband made friends

I tried to show as much graciousness as possible

I tried to create conversation

 

Where are you put up?

 

It was a simple question

One we Indians ask frequently

 

However, his reaction was a nonconformity to me

His lips turned into questioning frown

I could sense Ard stiffen

I knew that I had made a mistake

Speaking out like that

 

Yet I did not know what had happened

 

Later, Ard informed me

And spoke to me

English in India is different from the English in the USA

People do not use that phrase

It is confusing to Americans when you say that

 

Ask “Where do you live” instead

 

Taking what he told me in

I felt a new sense of loneliness

I felt the world was so much different

Although we humans are all so similar

 

From then on

I felt

Settling in the US is easier said than done

Some context: What were some things that took you by surprise? Although people understood my english they did not understand how phrased the questions. I knew my accent was different but was surprised that how I phrased the question was different. 

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Hari Katha, Uncategorized

Mixed Feelings (Embracing Change – Part 1)

Today is my last day living in India

No longer will I be

Under the influence of my parents

No longer will I be

The same little girl

That roamed the streets of India

That would hold her parents’ hands

That was afraid of being lost in a crowd

 

I am now a strong independent woman

Who no longer needs her parents to protect her

 

All my childhood memories

All of my encounters with people

Will vanish like a pot of curry during dinner

I will have to start from square one

 

My feelings represent the taste of a grapefruit

It tastes sweet as sugar, just like sweetness of the opportunities I will soon get

But bitter at the same time, just like the bitterness of leaving everything in India

And starting a new life

 

I look at my husband Ard

Who gives me a reassuring smile

I give farewells to my teary eyed family

 

Going to America is now a reality

Some context: I remember Hari had asked what were you most scared of as a child, and I had mentioned fear of getting lost in the crowd, in a bus. How did you feel leaving India? Excited and terrified at the same time. It is not easy leaving your life behind, I had told him.

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Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Uncategorized

A gem

As I was sorting through a mountain of papers in our home office, a handmade book stood out, taunting me to pick it up. It was titled “Embracing Change – a story based on the life of Maha by Hari (her son)” The cover had a picture of me as a 6 year old, with an arrow pointing to a picture of me from two years back. Ha, it slowly jogged the memory of what went into the making of that book. It was a book of poem with yours truly as a subject in the context of immigration. Hari had written it for his World Geo assignment last year (seventh grade). I remember Hari interviewing me, asking me to share the nitty gritties of my life story prior to and soon after coming to the US, asking me very specific questions. He spent a ton of time getting to know my story and internalizing it. The output was a five page, close to 950 words poem.

“A treasure… a lovely gift/tribute for your mother,” commented the teacher. I don’t think I appreciated it as much last year when he actually wrote it.  I mean I was touched but I was nitpicking on the grammar and the facts rather than appreciating the underlying intent. Today, in hindsight, I realize, being the subject of this poem has been the greatest honor of my life!

I will share this poem in five different posts here. Not to flaunt him but because this blog has sort of become the book of my life where I jot down all things close to my heart. The poem is poignant, in parts funny. Although it is in my voice, the child has taken some poetic license. 

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Little Moments, Uncategorized

Little Moments

Another thursday, another little moments post.

  • We had a party to celebrate Hari’s birthday. It was much fun to see his friends. I love love spending time with Hari’s and Ram’s friends. Not just to see my kids in the context of their friends but to observe the different personalities packed in a room, interacting with each other. The party was based on virtual reality, so you can imagine the excitement over it!
  • As I reflect on the week that has gone by, the only thing I can think of is how much I have slept..! I have been happily  going to bed as early as 8:45 PM. What can I say, I have quite the envious nightlife.
  • Spending time with Hari doing Math. Spending time with Ram doing Tamil homework. Spending time with kids is time well spent!
  • Ram and I visited our happy place after ages – the local library!
  • Lunch at a place with ambiance on a work day.
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