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.


anudivya said...

You are keeping golu at home!!! Sigh! I wish I could have one, but I am not prepared at the moment :(

I still remember those initial days, I don't think I was opinionated, but I still do prefer a lot of things back home and some things here. Things that you can't put a price on!
Every place has its good and bad, and it really is difficult to compare two so very different countries!

Priya said...

I enjoyed reading this post Mitr. I think back home we all are spoiled brats, spoon fed with many things including where we have people to take care.

I think every place has its own good things. We bring good values, culture from ther and live with the present. Its curry and salsa mixed together. Younger generation is so different now in India compared to what I was when I was a teenager.

Do post ur golu pic', wud love to see it.

Me said...

Even after 5 years of living here I let Sun TV scream in atleast a room...the reason home back in India was like a hub for relatives..same thing at my wife's place...we are so used to relatives talking with each other that our home was always Sun TV is the only thing that recreates such feeling and even when we are not sitting in front of the TV we let the TV run...

Cham said...

I really enjoyed this post :) Vadai which doesn't taste good, ha ha, that shows she wants to go back India. If she could have came here for a long stay probably her thoughts/views would be different :)
Could u post ur golu alangaram? At least , I can see it virtually :)

Spillay said...

A very interesting post. I must say... you are a very patient person. :) (I would have been all stressed up inside. Ha! Ha!)

Re Navaratri, this time for us, is a learning experience for the boys. They have prepared a Navaratri Calender with all 10 days on it and are following it closely. :)

A-kay said...

I think new place, new environment is a challenge to handle - some embrace change very easily while some are more stubborn and resist it as much as they can. I think C belongs to the latter set. Will agree with her on one thing, would love to drive Scooty on Mount Road any day :)

Can't wait to see your Golu arrangements (in person :) ). Catch up with you on Sunday?

Uma said...

through the eyes of a visitor, true! Very good analysis. I went through that phase too, took me sometime to adjust to the new place, though not so stubborn on certain things.

Please post the picture of your golu arrangement.

Mannaru said...

In india i could not sleep without the whirring of the fan..even during winter up in north india i would keep it on '1' in the regulator...remember kamal haasan in pesum padam..after coming to europe i miss the sound of the fan..


Laavanya said...

Some of the really good shows like Friends & Seinfeld took a while for me to really like them and understand the uniqueness of the characters. I still remember distinctly not liking the very first episode of Seinfeld I watched. So maybe she needs some time to get used to the humour in the Cosby show... :) Also, just the situations one is in when experiencing new place gives a different perception... When I first went to Singapore as a 17 yr old, away from home for the first time.. I HATED it.. just pure hate... it didn't matter how organized and clean everything was and so closeby & handy. I was away from home in this awful place was the only thing I had on mind.. Of ourse that changed after a while. :)

mitr_bayarea said...

Anudivya- I agree w/ you that it is indeed not a fair comparison to make between two so very different countries, so its hard not to do so.

Priya- Can't nod my head more to your response, we've been spoilt brats at home, but this place has so many good things. Will surely post a picture of my golu next week.

Me- No offense, I too, am a major Sun Tv watcher, watch some serials, comedy time, shows etc. but sometimes the loud crassiness of Vadivelu's so-called slap stick comedy really gets to me.

Cham- of course, will post golu. Too bad, you can't make it to my place on Sunday.

Spillay- Patience and me are so far apart, you can't imagine how paranoid I get when I have guests visiting, esp. from India.

A-kay- See you on Saturday, me to ur place first and then u to mine on Sunday. Looking forward to seeing ur golu.

Uma- we all go through that phase at some point. Will surely post a pic of my golu.

Mannaru- welcome here, yes, the fan sound is something that has become part of us now, I too have the ceiling fan during winter and sleep under several layers.

Laavanya- True, it does take up a while to enjoy Friends and Seinfeld.

na_an said...

I think it will take time for her to adjust, but in due course she will. When I came to US, I did not remember having so many issues, since I was preoccupied with other priorities- like studying and making sure that we live within our limited resources. I think it also matters how much you are willing to adjust.

Usha said...

Wow you are going to have golu at forward to seeing some pics of the golu...about your is difficult for some more than the others when they come to this of my friends has been here for about 12 years and she does not even drive a car...she keeps saying she wants to return to chennai hopefully soon she says...can you believe that...

mitr_bayarea said...

Na_an- I guess you are right, when we came as students, we had different priorities and had to adjust as quickly as possible.

Usha- yes, will soon post golu pictures. I can totally believe that you have a friend like that, I know someone like that too, though they haven't been in US for that long.