So, 2011 went by pretty much in the blink of an eye. It’s funny how life seems to just pass by, don’t you think? Especially when you take everyday as it comes. Which is what I did the entire last year. Coming to the US away from family was a decision I took for a multitude of reasons that I don’t want to discuss again. I never realized what I missed till I went back for the ‘annual vacation’. For those of you who I’m friends with on facebook, my dramatic exclamations of vacation hangover is but obvious. Well, it’s all over my profile! Ever since I’ve gotten back though, things with me have been different. I guess maybe everyone goes through it? That home sickness hitting you all over again, the moping, the crying etc etc. But for me somehow it’s been more. It’s almost as if my eyes have been opened up.
Though I did not come to the US craving for the ‘luxuries’ it has to offer (trust me, being a student here doesn’t even warrant using the word luxury in the same sentence – not even by a trillion miles), I did come here craving for something else – freedom. Or rather, just to be away from a lot of things like, say, society snacking on my brains with the whole marriage talk. I got here, got a bit of that ‘ah-it-feels-so-good’ thing for exactly 22 milliseconds. And then it hit me – this country is way over rated. But I managed to get through the year cribbing about its idiosyncrasies and keeping myself super busy with monitoring the price of tomatoes at Kroger. Apparently I’ve changed – that’s what my parents felt when I went back. And thankfully they meant it in the positive way. For example, they were shocked /elated/disapprovingly approving of the fact that a) I lost quite a bit of weight (imagine someone actually said,”Ava US poitu elaipa nu terinjirnda minadiye anupirkalame” which basically means if they knew I would lose weight on coming to the US then my parents should’ve sent me earlier! I mean seriously, ok? What gives!) b) I’m, by quite a significant degree, more responsible, aka less of a spendthrift. I actually managed to save a decent amount of money being a student and my Dad was super impressed while Mom kept flaunting it around.
I was equally, if not more, shocked to realize that I have changed. Double-taking became my only reaction to everything around me. No, no – not the usual US-return reaction of ohmygodIndiaissooodirty but at the bloody inflation rate! So, this amazingly yum milkshake that I used to drink in that juice shop in Citi Centre for Rs. 45 EXACTLY a year ago was now Rs. 106! Can you believe that?! Palmolive Mineral etcetc body wash went from Rs. 90 to Rs. 125. Even the Besant Nagar korathis know about recession and inflation albeit in their ‘velai vaasi yeri pochu ma‘ (I think that means prices have gone up) way. And I found it even harder to accept that people have just accepted it. My sister has credit card bills in the 40-50k range every month. My parents don’t even flinch when they see grocery bills of 7-8k per month. And well, don’t even get my started on petrol! Rs. 73! And when I’d complain, people would just look at me amused and say, but yet not say, shutup and get over it!
That is when I realized that maybe I should just move back to India. I’m 92.835% there already. The remaining, uhm, do-the-math% is only considering the money power I have here which is, if anything, only attributed to the damned currency conversions. I know I can save more being here – by ofcourse living like a mini- pichaikari in the process. But yet, it is a pretty fulfilling thing to know that you have saved and given back. It feels really, really, really good. But then again, I don’t wanna be one of those kids who merely send xxx$ to parents per month, do one visit per year and then say amma I love you. While I’m not saying that is wrong – I don’t want to do that. I may be forced to resort to it for certain reasons, but it’s not going to be for too long.
And suddenly after getting back here, I feel suffocated by the vastness around me – in all its oxy-moronish wisdom. Hearing the high pitched it’slikeit’slikeohmygaad voice of American teenagers brings out the inner mami in me by making me want to say something really mean and inappropriate to shut them up. One more minute of hip-hop blaring in my ears and I can throw up. This is thanks to my undergrad ABCD housemate who thinks that she’s being one big fat blob of coolness by playing songs that are basically expletive-stringed-shlokas. Infact, oddly my room mate and I were considering playing Suprabhatham at 6 am just for the kicks 😛 Suddenly, the very freedom I wanted is making me so claustrophobic that I need closure. I want amma, appa, Dolly and the whole package deal with me all the time. Every time I velaku-ethify (light the lamp. Yes, I may have tattoos and all but I’m pious ok?) Kabaleeshwar Koil nostalgia hits me so hard it makes me cry.
It is all like global warming and climate change. A couple of decades ago, global warming was cult. It was feared akin to the Devas fearing the Asuras. Homams were conducted in Parthasarathy koil to nullify the effect of greenhouse gases trapping sun’s incident rays and increasing the earth’s temperature thus causing polar icecaps to melt and increasing global sea levels leading to flooding etc. It was the most love-to-hate thing there was. Then came the decade of the skeptics who claimed temperatures are increasing but not increasing, it exists but does not exist kind of stuff. Soon, people got bored and continued eating idlis or pancakes or whatever for breakfast and going on with life. Now, the term has been rechristened climate change. Too many skeptics have shaken the foundation of scientists enough to just let it be. No warming and all, just – change.
In that sense, I feel – if something as big as the Earth can change, then why not me?