Monday, August 27, 2012

Outside the Comfort Zone

This blog of mine has been neglected too much. If it was a wife, then I would have been divorced long back. But thankfully blogs are much better, they remain faithful and as they were when you last saw them. So what was I up to?? Nothing much, other than packing as much stuff as I could into as many suitcases as I could hope to carry on an international flight. Taking as much of my country with me as an airline would allow me to. And as expected, it wasn’t enough. Once reaching Arizona, I was getting adjusted to the arid and hot weather, the usual apartment hunting tensions and once everything was done, I was busy having a gala time with all the university welcome events which are like almost everyday.

So, if I am enjoying myself so much, where did I find the time to attend to this blog of mine? My relationship with my blog has been a typical one that a person has with their boyfriend/girlfriend. There’s the initial excitement at discovering something new, then you show people what you have, and enjoy the sight of their awestruck faces (a bit exaggerated), you take in the compliments and ignore the criticism. Then comes the stage where you are comfortable with it and get used to it. There isn’t anything new to discover. So you start neglecting it, and when you are at your loneliest, it again comes to your rescue. I love my blog, maybe because I may have poured so much of myself into it, more than I have done with any person. So here I am, whether I like it or not, posting once more, hopefully for the better. And no, I still haven’t come up with a story but hopefully the block would pass and I would be back with the usual fiction.

Getting used to another country, a totally different culture has been a real adventure. Some of the old followers of this blog might recall one of my earlier post titled Cast Away, where I had posted about my first experience away from home into a hostel. It is the post closest to my heart since it was all totally true and heartfelt. Today I am writing a similar one, but this time the person writing it is 6 years older than what he was during Cast Away, and this decision of going far away from home to pursue my dreams has been a calculated one and wasn’t hurried like that time.

So how is USA? That’s the first thing people ask me. I say it is a really good place. I see more discipline here as compared to my own home country. The people are more well-mannered and polite. No job is a shameful job here. For example, the maintenance guy in my apartment complex owns a car and drives down to Las Vegas every weekend, and cleans the swimming pool, sweeps the complex, does the repair work in the apartments during the weekdays. The people here take their job seriously. Another thing I really admire here is the traffic discipline. I have rarely heard a car honking even in the most horrible traffic jam. In a jam, there’s a difference of at least 4 metres between every car, unlike in India where a jam means all cars are sticking their noses up the front car’s rear end.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my country. I do. I miss the utter chaos, I miss the crowds and obviously I miss the food. Luckily for me, my mother had made sure that all her children are comfortable in the kitchen and can cook for themselves right from childhood. It used to feel a real pain to be helping Mom in the kitchen when we were kids, but I can see, or rather feel the dividends of that training now. In this country, where we keep converting the dollars into rupees mentally, it is very difficult to survive without cooking yourself at home. It is way too expensive to eat outside and even then the food here is not easily digested by our gut which used to spicy food. There are Indian restaurants but imagine having to pay $10 for a plate of daal-chawal.

The best thing about staying away from home is that one learns to appreciate his/her parents. You realize that it is not easy managing a daily routine all by yourself. But then, our mothers easily manage the entire family’s routine, don’t they? You realize that keeping a hold on your expenditure is very difficult, but Dad does it without any problem right? You realize that your cooking doesn’t taste all that great, but then you used to crib about your mom’s preparations (not in my case, I was told right in the beginning that if I crib, I would have to do it all myself).

It is very difficult staying all on your own, even if you are with friends. More so, if you are in a foreign country where the culture is totally alien. Initially it is the awe that you feel when seeing something you’ve never seen before. Then is the acceptance stage, where you decide that you are going to like this place since you are going to be here for a few years anyway. Next is the homesickness, especially when you start missing the home-made food, so you dig into the reserves packed into your bags. Once the reserves finish, then there are the desperate calls home to ask for simple recipes which don’t turn out as they are supposed to, however much you try.

And once all this is past, you realize that life cannot be more awesome. It’s awesome to be on your own. You are more willing to take chances and experiment. You are away from your usual peers, so there is more scope to develop new aspects in your personality without the fear of being ridiculed. Your horizons are widened; life is calling you with open arms, with a platter of opportunities laid out for you. Yes, the entire platter is for you. You may not be able to finish all of it. You have to choose. And the choice you make would define your entire life. You make mistakes, you learn from them. Some situations sweep you off your feet, you learn to retain your balance. You get overwhelmed, but your upbringing gets you back on track. If not for anything else, I love Christopher Nolan’s Batman series for one tiny dialogue, which literally defines every human being’s life.

“Why do we fall, sir? So that we could learn to lift ourselves up.”

I just read all that I have written. This makes me wonder, did I really have to leave my country to realize all this? No, not really. Then it struck me, was it just now that I realized that life was waiting for me, or had I known it all along, under the mental stacks of self doubt and low confidence? Yes, I knew that I was destined for something big, something I may have never imagined when I built my first Hydro-electric generator at the age of 16. I knew that if I could build something like that all on my own, I could do whatever I set my mind to. Then came the stage where I made it to the prestigious NIT. I struggled all those four years. I discovered myself more through those struggles than any other way. Luckily for me I had a rock solid family that never let the self doubts go above dangerous levels, they made me understand that a creature meant for flying should not be afraid to walk, and this is what has defined me.

As I am at the beginning of another marvelous phase of my life, a new platter laid out before me, I would like to tell you all one thing. Somebody who has never tried anything new in his/her life, somebody who has always been afraid of taking risks, afraid of falling, that somebody can never support you when you want to take a plunge into the deep sea. Don’t fear getting hurt, time heals all the wounds. Don’t fear falling, for there will always be someone to give a hand in case you can get up yourself. And most importantly, never ever hurt those who are close to you. Your ego will be forever with you, but it may not be the same with people. Choose what you value more.

So at the end of a random post, I would like to tell you all that I might have thought of a new short story for the next one. The writer’s block is slowly melting………………………………….


  1. nice write! I thought it was long... but it made its way through mind n heart effortlessly.

  2. Nice read it was. Looking forward to more such posts sharing your experiences in the Alien land.

  3. beautifully written and there are so many things that one can relate to by reading this.. i can say this one of the best blogs i have read till date.. good going ... :)

  4. thank u thank u
    @udeesha: when the words start flowing, they pour!!! glad u liked it

    @yatin: with so many desi ppl all around, it really doesn't seem much alien.. :)

    @Sis-in-law: and that is one of the best comments i have ever received on my blog.... cheers!!!!!! :D :D

  5. Nice one buddy... almost describes every notion i had when i came here... :) ...