So I’m back in America, and I have to say that it hasn’t been an easy adjustment back. Going from a place where you have to fight for everything to a place where I am currently fighting for nothing seems, in a word, wrong. As I go about my daily routine, I keep comparing it to mine in India. If I want chai early in the morning, I don’t have to wash up, get ready, walk for milk and make it – I just open my refrigerator and – voila! There it is along with more extensive a menu than I’ve had for the past 3 months. If I want things like face wash and lotion, I don’t have to argue with rickshaw drivers and store-walas – I just get in a car, drive to a store, and buy it. When I see America, I see it with new eyes – when I walk past a house with a trampoline, I wonder why someone would pay hundreds of dollars for a piece of bouncy black plastic, when I see someone driving a motorcycle I do a double-take when I see him wearing a helmet, when I glance up at the perfectly blue sky above me I wonder how it can possibly be the same one so polluted so many miles away. In essence, it’s hard to truly understand how these two so different worlds can only be a 20-hour plane flight away from each other.
It’s still strange to have so much freedom – I can wear whatever I want whenever I want, I can stay out until all sorts of odd hours, and I can share the company of whomever I like without worrying about “how it will look to others”. I take pleasure in the simple joy of piecing together my outfit in the mornings, not having to remember to wear a chunni, or that it means I’m married when I wear toe rings on the second toes of my feet. But at the same time that I enjoy these moments, each time I feel joy it is followed by a pang of sorrow when I remember the restrictions that act as a near strangle-hold on the friends and family that are still there. In essence, even though I’ve left India, India hasn’t left me – and its blessings and curses continue to follow me nearly eight and a half thousand miles away.