Wednesday, November 16, 2005

From Asia to America

I think everybody should go live in a different country for some period in their lifetime. It will give them a new perspective on a lot of things. I was originally born in Madras (now known as Chennai) in India and lived there for 17 years. Then I moved to a smaller city called Coimbatore in the same state for college and lived there for 4 years. After that, I moved to the US in 1994 and have lived in the US since then.

I have always liked the US since I moved here (that is why I am still here, right?), but it took a lot of adjustments. Contrary to what lot of Americans think, it is not that big a deal to go live in a different country (if it is, would so many people do that?). There is a saying in Tamil that goes something like the whole world is your place and everybody is your friend. I try to live by that motto. My first flight was my trip from Madras, India to Kingsville, Texas. I had to clear the customs in Dallas and had to change terminals there to catch the domestic flight - I thought it was a little too much to have trains inside the airports to go from one terminal to another (I still think so but at least I am used to it).

My flights were delayed and I was fairly sure that I am going to get lost as nobody will be there when my flight finally gets to Corpus Christi. But somehow the airlines had notified the people who were going to pick me up and they were there. My first stop in the US was a 7/11 where we stopped to get a drink. I got a big cup of Coca Cola and having used to drinking a little bit of it out of a bottle in India, I thought this was heaven.

I came to this country with $2300 and no real source of income, and with the plan of going back home after two years. Thinking back, it seems like a pretty crazy thing to do. But luckily, I got an assistantship to University of Louisville and transferred there after one semester in Kingsville. Since then, things have worked out for the best. Surely, this is the land of golden opportunities, where somebody can come up very well from nothing.

Initially, there were lot of culture shocks. In India, adults don't kiss in public (at least, not when I lived there) - so that was a big deal and I could not help stare (no, I don't do that now!). Eating meat and drinking was prohibited in my society but here people do that so casually. That made me wonder what is right and what is wrong. Is that all purely geographical? If so, then why bother?

Language is another thing. I had to really really concentrate to understand American people talking, and they had to do the same with me (they thought I talked too fast). But now it has got easier, but still I have my moments.

The best thing I like about the US is the presence of various cultures. I have made good friends with people from Germany, Sweden, El Salvador, Japan and of course, different places in the US. I also like the personal freedom in this country a lot although lately it seems to be getting curtailed.

Most of the times it feels like I have two homes and that feels good. However there are some times when I feel like an outsider in both the countries and that feels like limbo. I am planning on visiting India next week and that will be very interesting as I think India is changing (and looking more like the US) a lot everytime I visit (but writing about India is for later).

Last but not least, I want to thank my parents for letting me go to the US against all odds and my uncle for helping me at the right time against everybody's better judgment. I also want to thank the innumerable folks in the US that have made me feel right at home. Here's to the Land of Opportunities!


Thursday, November 10, 2005

Kutti (The Little One)

I have never had a pet before and so I was very hesitant about getting one seven months ago. But once I finally got myself to do it, we came home from the Humane Society with a Labrador Retriever - Jack Russel mix. We named her (after much deliberation) Kutti (which means "little one" in Tamil). And without further ado, I present Kutti to you.

The first few days were very different as I was not used to such an energetic creature in the house. She likes to bite everything - she even bites her own bed. A few days after we got her, she ran out the door to chase a squirrel and we had to run after her and bring her back. But in those few minutes, I realized how much I like her. The thought of losing her was so overwhelming that it changed my perception of dogs.

Dogs are amazing creatures. How can a dog be so satisfied with just a belly rub? There is a spot next to Kutti's ears that if we rub for a few minutes, she seems hyptonized. How can she get so excited to see us that she has to jump up and down, even though we were there with her two hours ago? There is a lot human beings can learn from dogs. Kutti does not hold a grudge. If I had scolded just a minute ago for not letting me type, she forgets that, and comes and interrupts me once again. Loyalty is another thing that we could learn from dogs.

Kutti seems to like all kinds of food - even spicy Indian food. She likes buttermilk rice with very spicy pickle - so she fits right in our household. I speak to her both in english and tamil - so we have a bilingual dog now! As I am driving back from work, I think of what she has been doing all day (I have no idea what she does while we are not there) and about playing with her. Every day when I leave, she comes standing by the gate to say goodbye. Yesterday, I forgot to wave her goodbye and so came back to do that, but she was not around (must be busy looking for a squirrel).

Our neighbors have two chihuahas and Kutti likes to race with them all the time (it is so fun to watch all three dogs go back and forth by the fence). There is another dog across the street that gets so mad that he can't participate. Someone said that when dogs bark they are actually talking to one another. I thought that if that is the case, they are saying the same thing again and again (isn't that funny?!).

I could go on and on about Kutti but I will stop here now. But I can assure you that there will be more entries about her. Also, she will not be the last dog we have. I am already thinking of having about 10 dogs when I retire. Many thanks to the person who brought Kutti into my life.


Sunday, November 06, 2005

My Very First Blog

Welcome to anybody who is reading this. Please bear with me as this is my first attempt at blogging and writing.

Why am I writing a blog?

Here are some of the reasons...

1. I recently read a friend's blog and found it very interesting. Thanks, friend!
2. I have always wanted to write something and thought this would be a good start. And I can go on to publishing lots of books!
3. Just wanted to try something new.
4. Wanted to share some of my views with whoever is interested.

I am not really sure what my postings are going to be about but am planning on writing about things that interest me, general events and whatever else goes through my mind.