Home Away from Home
Writing by Shaili Jha ’19
Would I be capable of living on my own without the ever-guiding hand of my family? Would I find places that would serve vegetarian food that suits my palette? What would my university and the different people I meet be like? These questions clouded my mind as I hauled three suitcases (120 pounds, and trust me it is NOT easy) filled with Indian snacks, heavy duty winter clothes, shoes for different occasions and typical Indian cooking vessels, off the conveyor belt. With groggy eyes, I stepped out of the Boston Logan International airport and took a deep breath of what I poetically likened to the smell of freedom and undiscovered opportunities.
Thinking back to the moment when I first decided to quit my job and go back to studying, it has been a long and arduous journey and I am finally in the land where countless people come to fulfill their dreams. Back home in India, I had received countless solicited and unsolicited advice about what to expect in the US of A. But being the stubborn soul that I am, I did not want to have any preconceived notions, and this has enabled me to have a delightful experience.
My first morning in Providence felt odd as there were no constant wake-up calls from my mom or the steaming cup of chai to greet me. But as the days progressed and I got to explore Providence, I realized that there are many more similarities than differences between the American and Indian cultures. From listening to cab drivers singing popular Bollywood songs and greeting me with a Namaste to hearing a kid complain about his favorite item Naan getting over at one of the luncheons, each day continues to be a pleasant surprise.
For one, the enormous range of colors that one encounters among the people of India is reflected in the amazing shades of seasons that one gets to see in the USA. Trust and honesty are an important part of any relationship whether that be a professional or a personal one, in both countries. Indian Premier League (a spin-off of Cricket) is similar to Baseball in the sense that either sport can make the bestest of friends temporary archenemies owing to the loyalty they have for the team that represents their state. The humongous Bollywood industry is slowly catching up to the one and only original film industry a.k.a Hollywood. The various notes in jazz or hip-hop are a perfect offset to the complicated sur and ragas of Hindustani and Carnatic music. Intricate poses and mudras in Kuchipudi and Kathak are just as awe-inspiring as tutting in Street dance or en pointe in Ballet. Just like travelling from one state to another makes one feel like they are travelling to a whole new country owing to the enormous geographical and socio-cultural differences, that feeling is still the same with respect to USA.
Thanks to globalization, flash mobs and music concerts are now a regular sight in India whereas Samosa and the colorful festival of Holi has become a part of the diverse American culture. This has not only given me the feeling of home away from home and made me comfortable, but also contributes to a more well-rounded development of my personality. And yes, it does get a bit lonely at times, but when I eat out at my favourite pizza place and the owner sneaks in a cookie after realizing that I am homesick, it makes life much easier.
As I sit here with a cup of my favorite hazelnut latte, I wonder what this new world and life has in store for me and look forward to be surprised every day.