Cultural amnesia

I don’t remember how to be American! I don’t remember how my house works! After almost 2 years in India, I am staring at the appliances and checking which button I have to press to get coffee. It took me a few seconds to get reacquainted with the washing machine. I looked at the 4 bottles of cleaning products around the toilet and wondered which was the right one for the job. Then I wondered why we need so many different products. I was however pleased to wash my dupatta with Oxyclean and get rid of the coffee stain that remained after the last wash by the dhobi walla.

We went to Walmart. A rite of passage. I stared at people (politely I hope). There is just as much people watching than in the streets of Bangalore, but I am much more judgmental here. Come on people, you’re in public! I have to stop that kind of thinking. India made me a better person and I need to transfer my new mindset to my new life here.

The kittens are fine. They remember the house, the good hiding spots, the softest chairs. They miss their big scratching post and have started using the furniture for their manicures. Not cool!

Talking about cool, the AC is not working properly. The weather in Houston right now is similar to that of Chennai: hot and humid. We had to call the repair companies, and had to deal with a bunch of idiots. We were told, almost verbatim: “You don’t pay enough to get first rate service”. Classy. And I thought that customer service was one of America’s strong points. Next time I complain about maintenance service in India, I will remind myself that at least there they are polite and apologize profusely. The services are not performed, but they are pleasant. Here, you get no service and an attitude to boost. Whatever dude, I just came back from India, I have no problem with the heat, bring it on, and see your Yelp ratings sink even lower.

I miss my Indian family. I hung all kinds of pictures on the wall. I love Whatsapp, which is my main connection to my friends. I have to teach the teenagers about time differences, as I get messages in the middle of the night! I am not complaining, I will do anything to keep in touch. One sent me a picture of the new puppy they found around his house and told me one momma dog just delivered 9 pups. Nine! I send them pictures of Kitchens Of India food packages that I just found at HEB. They have Dal Bukhara in the suburbs of Houston, I always said Texas and Punjab are sister states!

Anny Akka, or Big Sister Anny, in Kannada.  My new temporary tattoo.

Anny Akka, or Big Sister Anny, in Kannada. My new temporary tattoo.

I miss the smells, I miss the colors, I miss the spices. I miss the energy. But I enjoy the selection of fruits at the store, I enjoy driving my car, and I love being back with my old friends.

I am ok being here. I am not deliriously happy but ok. I eat American foods but I am reading a book on Partition. I wear shorts (not short shorts!) without fear of being ogled. I have American television but read the Times of India first thing in the morning. RIP Dr. Abdul Kalam. It was an honor seeing you talk.

And just to make things a bit more interesting, or a bit more confusing, E. quit his job and joined a British law firm. We are moving to China in a few weeks. Yes! KittiesVindaloo will become KungPaoKitties!

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3 Responses to Cultural amnesia

  1. Wow! That’s an amazing development! China is an amazing country and can’t wait to read all about your perspectives on life there… likely with all sorts of comparisons to life in India!!!

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