Being an immigrant is challenging at many levels, but most of all emotionally. My daughter and I came back from our every-two-year trip to India about a week ago, but I am still not back into the rhythm of life here. Typically, I call my parents once or twice a week but this past week I have called them almost everyday as though hearing their voice and their stories of how much they miss me would transport me in the midst of their loving life. The two weeks, from their eager wait at the airport to see our faces after a long gap to their teary drop-off the day we left, were gone in the blink of an eye.
Eighteen years ago, when I left India in search of a better future, it made sense because India was barely present in the economical map of the world. However, a lot has changed with the roads, buildings, cars and restaurants. The growth of infrastructure, malls, air-conditioned cars, hotels and restaurants has been astounding. Even more astonishing is the spending power of people despite the fact that the prices have multiplied several times over the last few years. I found myself converting the cost of most items into US dollars and muttering, “Really? How do people afford such an expensive lifestyle?”
The question that immediately followed in my mind was, “Are my friends who never left India better off today with their family around them?” After much thought and careful consideration, I answered, “no.” I do not live here because of the cars, homes, malls and highways. I thrive here because I have the freedom to dream the impossible.
But who knows? Even this might change in the foreseeable future, and that’s when my daughter’s dream of living in India might be a reality. “Mama, India is very cozy” was her unflinching answer when I asked her why she wanted to live in India; her reply is a natural reaction for a kid who is smothered with love, care and attention by her grandparents and family members during her stay in India.