Migration, Emigration And Transmigration
First, a short personal note. Thanks, Rangaswamy for re-posting all my old bboard posts. My god, I can't believe there is so much enthusiasm for my old posts, some going back almost six years. My mailbox now is more flooded than my bathroom and old friends have been jumping out of the woodwork, left and right. (Hi, Paul Chemanoor !) Thanks, folks.
As you can tell, I do exist - in a biological sense - in the Denver area and I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sorry, I don't work for the World Bank, though I wish sometimes that I worked for the IIT Kanpur branch of the State Bank of India, given their relaxed work atmosphere and the phenomenal dowry money that entitles one to. And beware of anyone trying to pass off as my relative, because I disown all my relatives - just kidding. But I do read SCI as often as I can and don't miss posts by Prem! or Fafat or Theo - congrats, Theo on Ram Lakhan's poems, they were awesome.
However, my last bboard post was way back in January. The reason for my silence is that I have been busy getting back to good health. Some of you may remember that I had a major heart surgery last July to fix my defective heart valve. Now, I have recovered completely and my heart has healed so well that even cardiograms are not been able to tell it was repaired. I guess I have been incredibly lucky. Since my surgery, new avenues, which have thus far been closed, have suddenly become open for me. Such as, being able to do physical activities and exercises. So, since January, I have been spending almost all my spare time in just running and cross training. Just to brag some more, I even ran in the Boulder 10 KM race in May and finished with a decent timing. Now, time has come for me to post on the SCI again and bore you all to death.
A million thanks to Rajan Parrikar for posting all what I write, even though I know he does not agree with me on some of my points of view.
"Where did you lose it ?" was his first dumb question. Darn ! How do I know ? If I knew it exactly, I would have taken care not to lose it in the first place ! I pointed my finger vaguely in the direction of the large window in the office.
'Red light district'. He wrote down. By the way, the prostitutes in Amsterdam accept even traveler's checks, I was told. Oops, I am digressing.
"Officer, is there any chance of my getting it back ?"
"You never know. There is a racket in American passports. If they realize it is an Indian passport, they may even toss it in a garbage can. If we find anything I will call your hotel or your Consulate."
"Oh, don't think lowly of Indian passports, sir. A whole bunch of terrorists are after Indian passports. In case of my passport, they don't even have to change the photograph, because I look like a prototypical terrorist - Ha ha." I told him, as he gave me a dirty look and a police report in the highly incomprehensible Dutch language.
I never got it back and somehow managed to reenter the U.S.A. (Can you believe, they asked to see my driver's license at the Amsterdam airport ?) Now I have found out that the Indian government charges a merciless two hundred and twenty odd dollars to issue a new passport. At prices like this, it makes sense to shop around and find a country which issues passports at a cheaper rate. Anyone knows what they are charging in Borkina Faso or Antigua ?
Also, for some unknown reason, the desi consulate asked me for seven or eight or nine photographs, depending on which paragraph of the application form you trust. I have a good mind to send them seven different mug shots of mine. Am I in for a long haul or does anybody know how long they usually take to issue a new passport ?
Now that someone stole my passport, I am hopelessly grounded. Of course, I still have my Hyatt Gold passport. Hee hee. But nonetheless, I can't go to Mexico or Canada or even to India. Heck, without my Indian passport, they are not even letting me into the Indian grocery stores any more. Okay, okay, no more such PJs.
The Desi demographics here in the Boulder-Denver area is undergoing a sea change, with desis landing here like it is a D-day invasion. The number of desis who have relocated to this area just in the last couple of months alone exceeds infinity. Add to this, the one-shot arrival from India of about fifty or so spouses, to reunite with a battalion of pre-existing software types, who in the first place, were contracted in a body-shop deal from India. And now, even Shridhar Bhartulwar is going to move here. Don't know who he is ? Doesn't matter. At any rate, the last bastion has fallen and the West too is won - by us, desis.
This has profound ramifications. And maybe we will learn something from this about the Aryan migration. For a start, this has crowded up the usually poorly attended Indian Association functions. Now, if you don't get there in time, the odds are you will be forced to stand in the far corner, stepping on the feet of a totally unknown desi and surrounded by a pack of desis with ticklish clothes. When you reach the front of the gulab jamun line, all you are left with, these days, are a few drops of the syrup. There are more IIT Madras Alumni associations in this area than McDonalds'. And enough Balas and Srinis crawl around everywhere, making up their own substratum of society. These days, you go to a Mishra's place with another Mishra to meet a third Mishra.
Most of these folks work for U.S.West, the phone company. In fact, it was suggested that they might even change their name to DesiWest or something equally sexy to reflect the new employee mix. The U.S West cafetarias are supposed to even serve dosas. The corporation observes a 'dress down day' every friday, when the employees wear casual clothes and reports claim that some of the nuevo employees show up at work in their dhotis and lungis.
And this influx of desis into Colorado has also affected a venerable social institution of America, namely, the Indian Grocery Store. For centuries, in the Denver area we only had one Indian grocery store, serving all states this side of the Continental Divide. It was run by a very friendly Indian woman. She was ably assisted by a guy, who is either her husband or her sex slave. He would singlehandedly carry and dump twenty five pound rice bags (a. k. a the 'Ph.D bags') as if they were inflated baloons. He always looked like a circus clown with twenty things dangling from him - there was that VCR remote sticking out of his back pocket (he perpetually clones hindi videocassettes in a back room of the store), a pencil poking out of his ear (to provide stability to his ears), a long string wound around him for no reason. (the conjecture here is that the woman rides him home after work each day) A sign on the store refrigerator would proclaim that 'All cokes are 55 cents'.
On hot summer days, he would prop the store door open with a massive tin of 'Dalda'. He would preview the hindi movies and thrust them in our hands telling us "You must see 'Rudaali'. Nice comedy." When occassionally they ran out of Indian sweets, he would reassuringly tell us that "You can have that last piece. The green color is not fungus, the mithai itself is green. But if you would rather wait, we are expecting a fresh shipment from New York just tomorrow". Of course, as my friend and a long time Denver resident Deepa Mishra discovered one day, a local old desi woman made all the sweets and surreptitiously delivered them through the back door.
Now, all of a sudden, two more desi stores have opened up, triggering a new price war. One of the new stores is barely a hundred feet from the ancient desi store. My mailbox is flooded with competing brochures advertising such exciting events like sale on udat daal and so forth. Prudent desis even do comparison shopping in all three stores. The samosa market has already crashed around here. And the merchants are going at each other's jugular. One new owner, one of those unnecessarily tall guys with a generic mustache, even accosted me in the gripe water aisle and told me "I sell clean stuff. I was told the others sell udat daal with worms". Since I neither buy udat daal nor worms for that matter, his point was lost on me. Our circus clown cum sex slave is in total battle gear these days, with an extra piece of armor, made entirely of gunny bags, to ward off potential competitors. I don't know where all this is going to end.
The flip side of this wave of migration of desis is that you don't know
anyone any more. Just a few miles up the road from where I live, a
few more new Indians had moved in and one Indian guy shot and killed
his wife and his cousin and then killed himself. Its a pity that none
of us could do anything about it.
If you are a self-respecting desi, the odds are you have never been to a dentist in all your life - unless the tooth fairy decided to play ball with your wisdom teeth or if you regularly extract venom from your canines. I had my first encounter with my dentist recently. Since then, I have nicknamed him 'The Butcher of Boulder'.
I don't know what kind of job satisfaction dentists derive. Imagine, having to look into dirty mouth after dirty mouth, day in and day out. My dentist hasn't gone high tech yet and his tools are probably inherited straight from Marquis de Sade himself. Even my car mechanic has more teeth-friendly implements than my dentist. He firmly believes that if it didn't hurt, you won't respect him. The only good thing about him is his luxurious chair, which defies gravity, with twenty four degrees of freedom - all of which are useless when he's got you by your teeth.
"How often do you floss ?" he asked me, as he stuck his elbow into my mouth.
"Oh, about once a day." I lied through my nose. (remember, dear, you cannot lie through your teeth to your own dentist)
"You know, you guys from India - you have strange dental patterns. I can already see calculus build up due to years of use of Indian spices".
"Oh, really ? How bad is it ?"
"I think it is either curry powder. Wait, it is actually yellow."
"My god, doctor. Don't tell me. It is 'haldi' or turmeric. So, I have been using Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream on my teeth instead of the Vajradanti.
Jeez ! This is what happens when the same company manufactures both the creams. Would you mind looking at my pimples and tell me if they have become rock solid due to years of application of Vajradanti ?"
"Aw, open up ! " he told me (I guess 'open up' is the dentist equivalent of 'shut up') as he crept deeper into the inner recesses of my mouth. "Also, for cosmetic reason and for better bite, you need a bridge on the right bottom."
"Oh, really ? How much money are we talking ?"
"I think about fourteen hundred dollars."
"At that kind of money, doctor, that bridge better be a Golden Gate."
As he stuck his staple remover into my mouth and scraped my teeth, he asked me one more question. "I am also an admirer of Mother Teresa. She is not an Indian by birth, is she ?"
"No doctor, I think she is from Albania."
"Albania, that is interesting. That is a communist country. Isn't it ? How did she manage to get out of there ? And why did she decide to emigrate to India of all places ?"
"I don't know doctor" I managed to say, as I endured some more pain "But I can take a guess. In the visa form, she was asked what her profession was and there were categories like 'doctor', 'engineer', 'lawyer', 'teacher' and of course, 'dentist'. And she wrote 'nun of the above' and bingo, they let her emigrate to India."
Dear Srimati Clinton-ji,
News reports say that you are planning to go to India for a visit one of these days. Very good. As a well wisher, I have some suggestions for you. Pliss to contact me for any help you may want.
First of all, send an internet posting to Soc.Culture.Indian about your trip so that you can find out the best deals in Gulf Air etc. Get the Travel Agent Survey so that you will know best agent who will charge your credit card and give you ticket by Federal Express. If you get your tickets through travel agent Geeta Pradeep in Detroit, you can also eat idlis at her place if you go to Detroit itself for ticketpicking. If you are going via west coast, make sure you go to San Francisco airport well in advance so that you can grab a seat in the door-way row - this way you can get more room for your long legs, before the short, fat, short-legged desis inappropriately occupy those rows. You will make a long journey over water (and you will also long to make water over journey, ha ha !) to India and so it makes sense to quickly go to the airplane bathroom and steal a few soaps for later use in the plane. In Singapore, you may wish to deplane and check out the Mustafa Shop and buy some 220 Volts appliances if your friends or friends' families have requested them. Pliss to inform air hostess for vegetarian 'thali' meals. If Sri Billa Clinton can get holidays, he may also wish to accompany you. In which case, enroll also in a frequent flyer program. Don't worry about future scandals, madam. When you reach Bombay Customs - those are the blokes who wear funny white pants - ask your hubby to try to go through the green channel. But ask him to practice Indian english a bit, because if he declares "I only have my sexyphone" they might think it is a 'sexy telephone' - if you don't understand this double meaning, Mrs Hillariji, I am pliss to explain via email - you don't want Customs double duty. Otherwise you can write to S.C.I and find out that the duty on a used Saxaphone is only 235.4 %. If baby Chelsea is also coming with you - you see, she can also see all these elephants and camels - but be warned about the 'black booger problem' in Bombay and Delhi due to air pollution and take a lot of Kleenex to clean Kumari Chelsea's nose as often as is necessay. In doubt, consult Prem! of SCI or Susan Chacko. Have very good time. If you go to Delhi, try Anarkali Kulfi or Roshandi Kulfi with Narasimha Rao or the desi president...When you come back, write your memoirs on SCI for everyone to read.
Ajay Palvayanteeswaran and Viru Varma
Behind every successful desi immigrant in this country, there is a heart-wrenching visa story.
A prominent and senior NRI is a guy who would want dual citizenships; not satisfied, he would also want triple and quadruple citizenships; yet he would complain about all his citizenships and wouldn't want to pay taxes in any of those countries.