Monday, September 29, 2008
Through the eyes of a visitor
Last weekend, we had a second cousin of my husband's come visit us. C is related to my husband distantly, and since my understanding of the family tree and relations is very limited, settled upon calling her the second cousin, seems simpler. C who is a few years younger to me is from India and is here in the US on a B-1 business visa to work on a project for her company's client for a few weeks. She arrived last weekend and is put up close to her client's site in San Ramon valley. My husband has met her only twice or so in his lifetime during weddings etc. in India and I've never seen her. C arrived in SFO last Saturday and called us several times during the week to ask if she could come over and meet us. Since she stays about 3 hours away from where we live, we told her to use public transportation to come to the station closest to our place from where we could pick her up.
C arrived on Saturday morning after taking a cab, changing 2 trains at a station 30 minutes away from our place and my husband picked her up. After they got home, we took off to attend a company picnic lunch hosted by my husband's company. C filled us in on her background and her routine since landing in US about a week ago. Apparently, her client office here has only 5 folks who all work from home. She is the only one coming from India to work on this project and hence works from her hotel room. She visited another distant family member's place during her first weekend and since then has not seen anybody else. She had spent the last week 24 hours a day locked up in her hotel room and was longing to interact with people.
Anyways, I spent the weekend taking her out for shopping, took her to the Indian grocery store and we went out to eat etc. C couldn't take her eyes off the Sun TV channel while at home and chatted away to us all the time. It was interesting to hear about some of her remarks and observations about the lifestyle in US.
1. During the one night she was in our place she couldn't go to sleep at all. She told us that it was too quiet here, no sounds of traffic from the roads, no noises etc. and it felt scary for her to fall asleep. So, she pretty much spent Saturday night watching TV till morning and fell asleep on the couch at dawn.
2. She loved the highways and the orderly lane traffic that whizzed past by, but still said that she preferred to ride her Scooty on Mount Road anyday, chuckle);-
3. Someone from her client office took her out to lunch on her first and only day in the office to a Greek restaurant and she had panini which she hated and said would never eat for the rest of her life. So, on the day she came over to our place and before we headed out to K's office picnic, she ate thayir satham and vadu mangai.
4. So, we took her out to dinner at a South Indian restaurant and after one bite of the sambar vada, she remarked that the vada tasted bad and we shouldn't eat it. K and I have been eating at this place for years, now.
5. We were watching CNN on and off, since she wanted to see mostly Sun TV and after a while, I was watching The Cosby Show on one of the family channels (a comedy show based on an African American family) and her expression was a dead giveaway that she would rather watch the crassy Vadivelu on Sun TV than enjoy the humor on this show.
Those were some of the distinct observations from the eyes of a visitor to this place. The views that parents have when they come here is quite different from that of a younger generation that comes from India. Made me go back to my initial days of coming to the US years ago as a student, was I this opinionated (I still am in many ways), but, most of everything about US fascinated me and I didn't know if the lack of noise, people crowding, huge family gatherings etc. bothered me as much as it did to her. In fact, the silence, the loneliness of this place in some ways all charmed me- that will be another post sometime.
On another note, today is the first day of the Navarathri festival, waiting to go home this evening and keep the golu.