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When brinjal became eggplant!

May 22, 2013

Feels great to get to blogging after a long time. 

Now that I am leaving the US after 6 years, I am feeling nostalgic. I will blog about all my memorable experiences here. But to start off, I will tell you about my first day here!

I still remember the first time I landed in pardes! A few of Jay’s friends had come to greet us at the airport.  And they were Indians! I felt at home – at least a little. We loaded our bags in the car and sat in the back seat. Seats belts had to be put on – first change I noticed here. I did not hear my friend honk even once (that doesn’t happen in India) and driving through almost perfectly disciplined traffic, we reached home. A dear friend of ours got rajma! Ahh, another reason to feel at home. The aroma felt familiar. I opened the fridge to keep the rajma and saw a yummy chocolate cake there. It was made my yet another now dear friend of mine! Hmm! There it was –yet another reason to feel at home. I felt, “arey!  pardes is not all that bad!” But there was more to it…

The first thing that struck me about this place was the SILENCE. It was very quiet all around. And Jay only added to that silence. J Away from the “shor” of homeland, I started feeling a little out of place. I started missing all the sounds, of the cars honking, tv playing, music blaring and the most crazy thought I had was – “oh dear! Dogs don’t bark here!”

Jay saw my glum face and decided to cheer me up. Cooking never fails to cheer me up, so he decided to take me to a grocery store to buy what I like. I put on my jacket and we started walking on a quiet and dark street of Pasadena. The deserted street led to a signal. It was red and the hand signal giving it company on a cold night was also red. I started running across the street. Well, I was used to doing that in India. If you are an Indian, you know what I mean, don’t you? Anyway, I felt a strong pull on my hand and a loud voice near my ears, “STOP!! You will be fined for Jay walking!” I thought to myself, “jay- walking?? What does that even mean?” Jay did the explanation. With raised eyebrows and a puzzled look, I knew at once that rules were respected here.  I mean in India, a red signal doesn’t mean anything to anybody. I have seen a huge traffic jam (in Mumbai) in the middle of an intersection while a signal is still red. You see – new country new lessons. So I pressed a button on the signal and waited and waited for the hand signal to turn white.

The grocery store felt far away. A short walk seems much longer with a quiet husband, even quieter streets, and a cold night. Outside the grocery store, a car stopped for us as we walked by. “My oh my”, I thought, “such respect to pedestrians!” You see new country, new experiences! Inside the store, I looked at the cost of the vegetables in wonder! “Three dollars = 150 rupees for half a pound of tomatoes!!” I soon learned not to convert dollars to rupees- an advice I still cannot forget. I gazed at the onions, garlic, apples and oranges in the store. They seemed like monsters in front of their lilliputian counterparts from India. I hid all the monsters in my bag and walked back to the signal. This time I did press the button at the signal and winked at Jay.

In the warmth of our house, I started opening the packet of brinjal. I stared at the white tag on it which read, ‘Eggplants’. Soon brinjal became eggplants, ladies fingers became okra and coriander leaves became cilantro for me. You see new country, new changes. Jay and I had a good meal with eggplants, rajma and rice. We retired for the day…

On the bed, as I closed my eyes I saw images and heard sounds of India! The crowded airport, my parents waiving to me at the airport, the tears in their eyes, women clad in saree, the golgappa wala, the old aunty selling corn, children playing in sand, cars honking and the pressure cooker whistle blowing. I missed the charm of the chaos and the crowds of India! Why would one miss the crowd and chaos, some of you might ask. Well, it is one of those mysterious things- you either feel it or you don’t! With moist eyes, I said “Good night” to Jay. And he knew I terribly missed my des in pardes!

Do you have any such “day one” experiences to share? I would love to hear them!

More in the next blog. 



From → Pasadena

One Comment
  1. Srija Unnikrishnan permalink

    Dear Sushree, Good to see that you have started writing, with Avi around. Love, Mom

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