Dollar Dreams: What is it like to move from India to the US?

I moved to the US from Auroville in Tamil Nadu after having lived in India for the better part of a decade and learning both Hindi and Tamil. I wanted to become a professional furniture maker and I found a great woodworking school in the Pacific Northwest

Dollar Dreams: What is it like to move from India to the US?

Source : Quora

The first thing I noticed when I landed in Seattle was a kind of flatness. In India there was always something interesting happening: temple music or some raucous festival; cows sprawled on the side of the road; oil lamps outside of everyone’s houses at night; a snake or scorpion found in the backyard; a sadhu with a navel-long silver beard dressed in ochre; pounding monsoon rains that forced you to stay at home; men and women by the sides of the road selling fresh produce from their backyard; coconut stands in the street. Oh and mangos. Succulent, golden-fleshed mangos.

And apart from that there was something tingling and crackling in the atmosphere, some indefinable masala that infused everything with magic and wonder, like an electric field.

I had a lump in my throat as I drove out from the airport, wide quiet roads where everyone obeyed traffic, spindly-green conifers stretching to the horizon. It was beautiful, but I felt like I missed something. I missed the liveliness of India. I doubted myself. Did I make the right decision? Was this worth it?

When we settled in our rented house it took months until I got to know all our neighbors. They were nice people but they kept to themselves mostly. In India my neighbors and I had our front doors open most of the time, and our kids ran freely into each other’s houses and played together. They could even choose in which home to have lunch. In the US I only spoke with my next-door neighbor on one side after nine months.

After a while, something began to settle. The school was professional and teachers intelligent; I was learning what I had wanted to learn. I had tried apprenticing with local woodworkers in India, but their level had been disappointing, crude and unrefined.

I also appreciated the vastness: the sense that I have all the space I could ever want and that no one could intrude it. I liked how clean everything was, how efficient; how there were no power cuts; how the ferries and any other form of public transportation ran on schedule, and how all the things I needed were always available.

And I liked how manual labor was honored and not disdained like in India. Not everyone was rushing to find a job in an air-conditioned office—there was pride in being able to make or repair things with one’s hands, even if other jobs paid more.

But I dreamt about India in the nights. About the red soil, the maddening call of the common cuckoo, the honking of peacocks; about the unbridled hope of people in the face of seemingly insurmountable problems. I dreamt about the warmth and ease of people and about the spiritual vibration that seemed to permeate the land itself, that nourished a deep part of myself I had only discovered in India.

I didn’t miss the filth, the pollution or the stench; or the unreliability of everything.

I felt torn—I wanted India but with the orderliness and cleanliness of the US. Or I wanted the US but with the magic and wonder of India.

In short, I wanted something impossible.