Friday, June 10, 2005


I was walking from the metro back home and I was wondering about the number of responsibilities that have built up on me as the years have passed by. I suddenly felt suffocated. There were too many things to worry about. In India, we as children enjoy enormous freedom. I remember that most of my childhood was spent reading fun books or playing with my friends. Yes, the family did want me to do some fun chores, like going to the milk booth early in the morning waiting in that long line and getting the milk back home without spilling a drop. In addition to the milk chores, there would be some veggie shopping or mopping occasionally (my aunt would not let me mop coz she was never confident that I would get anything as squeaky clean as she did, but nevertheless she would want me to do some mopping sometimes). Other than these minor chores all I had to do was play and of course study to keep up with school. I was involved in a number of extra-curricular activities at school. I never really ventured into sports because I knew that the only real sport I knew was to sleep with my eyes closed for 18 hours at a stretch. I loved writing short plays and acting in them. My only responsibility really was to study and get good scores to get me into the science group in high school. I did that with relative ease, even though I did not score very high in my matriculation exams. By the time I was in high school I was knee deep and sinking into all kinds of the so called "extra-curricular" activities, shoemaker-levy 9 crashed into Jupiter and the stellar constellations of my ruling planet (Saturn) apparently got severely affected because of that. I ground through high school somehow.
I hated the humongous amounts of memorization that we did just to scrape through our high schools. I somehow managed to get a decent score in my high school. I found out though that I would not qualify to study either medicine or engineering with the scores I had. I was not in the least bothered by this, we were a class of 56 students who graduated out of high school and I was the only one who went on to do my bachelors degree in Microbiology. I thoroughly enjoyed the subject of my choice. It was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. After my bachelor’s degree, I did what everyone did, got a masters degree. After my masters degree everyone in my family was pushing me into taking the GRE and trying to get into a university in the United States. I had settled down into a nice job with a pharmaceutical company and was enjoying traveling the streets of Chennai marketing their stuff. I took the GRE with a lot of skepticism. I hadn’t prepared for it at all. I somehow managed to land a decent score to get me into one of the American Universities. Everyone who met me started to talk about how great it was going to be for me in the United States and about the future that lay in front of me. I landed in the United States on December 31 2001. I had been spot checked in every single airport (My Hindu name apparently doesn’t help). My uncle picked me up at the airport and took me to his house. It had been quite a while since I had met my uncle. I noticed that he had changed completely. I didn’t feel anything Indian about him. His house wasn’t an Indian household anymore. It was like I had walked into some alien house. I did not feel comfortable there at all. My uncle then brought me here to DC and left me with a Slovakian roommate. It has been three and a half years now since I first stepped foot into this country. I enjoy my research and I am very productive. I am still a year and a half away from my final goal, but yet, there is something lacking here. I feel it very strongly each day and it grows on me. I miss the crowd, the stench, the sweat, the thirst, the hunger and the passion which is so typically Indian. I miss the dirty streets and the carefree spirits roaming them. I miss the overcrowded buses and the daredevil stunts, hanging on the steps. I miss the stress free life I had. I miss my grandmothers cooking and the umpteen number of souls that have touched my life… I miss my country.
I wish someone could set me free!!


Anonymous said...

Why not go home ?

Arvind said...


Your hindu name landed you into trouble ;p huh ? :-)) jk

You would not be the only one caught in the 'dilemma'.

It is ironic, that 'we' call the american indians 'confused desi's while we indeed are the confused ilk !!!!!

ROBBIE said...

well arvind,
ROBBIE, is just my nick for the blogosphere, I somehow dont find it comfortable revealing my identity here (too many foes out there:P). I agree with this confused Desi stuff... The frustration builds because you cannot visit your country more often just because of financial constraints when you are a student and of course pressure from your professor.

Arvind said...

yeah, i figured the 'pseudonym' reading your article ;)

Phil Plasma said...

Nice message. I am with you in increased responsibility, but as I am not from India and am still living where I grew up, I don't have that heartbroken desire to return home.

How you have described India is part of the reason why I have always wanted to go there (at least to visit), but with the responsibility of family now it doesn't look like I'll get there any time soon.

Ganesh said...

Robbie get some fresh air and some more friends you will be allright :)

Anonymous said...

Hey Zaps..
I knew someone with the same id 'robbie zaps' in the song rooms of Y!chatworld. Your mention abt 'grandmother's cooking' made me think it could be you.
If you are the same 'robbie/zaps' then its really nice to see you again. So the singer zaps is blogger zaps
Dont feel so lonely out there...i guess atleast some of us in this country share the same sentiments abt this place we call 'back home'.
Am sure you'll feel much better soon.

Voice :))

Daedalus said...

ONe night, I left a bar earlier than I wanted because a friend offered to give me a ride home. I hadn't finished my beer, so I just took it outside. I was walking downtown DC, drinking a beer, and it was entirely liberating!

I can understand your perspective... sometimes this free country doesn't feel so free.

ROBBIE said...

Hey voice :)
Its the same robbie :P

Prabz said...

How much you got in GRE? ;)

my childhood was spent reading fun books
what kinda fun books are you talking about?

I hear you are working on your Ph.d? Whatz this research about.. am fascinated by biology..the one thing which didnt impress me during that time. but now. just rocking me to learn!

ROBBIE said...

I didnt get a high GRE Score,its not worth mentioning. The fun books were written by Asimov, Dickens, Blyton, Stevenson, clarke, dumas, well and a lot of others... was perineally immersed in books those days.
I am doing my PhD in cell and microbiology. Check out my inaugural blog for more info about my area of research.

Soph said...

You dont need someone to set you free... no one else other than you can do it. I KNOW wat you miss and how much you miss it. Remember somethings are worth holding on to.. and somethings are better when you let go. I hope you find and feel the freedom you are looking for.