Lands we leave behind

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More than half a century ago a man left the green fields and farm lands of western Maharashtra to try his luck in the glittering city of Mumbai. His mother had passed away a while ago and he left behind his father and younger brothers with the promise to bring them to the city. In Mumbai he found friends, a small place to live, got his degree as a certified accountant, and a job. Eventually he started his own company that manufactured chemicals and trained his brothers to manage that company. That man was my uncle, who brought his younger brothers from a small rural village in Maharashtra to Mumbai, give them better education and to give them a chance at a better life. Once he came to Mumbai, he never went back to the village except to visit the other relatives there every now and then. He got married and found matches for his brothers one by one, including my father. Everyone started their families in Mumbai and nobody gave a thought to return back to the village. The second generation of my family (my cousins and myself) decided to come further away to improve their lives and a few of us immigrated to the USA. Like our elders before us, we have not given much of a serious thought to going back to our lands. Like my uncles and my father who were immigrants to Mumbai and eventually became citizens of Mumbai (called mumbaikars), we have slowly become Americanized.

People all over the globe move from their home towns and home countries and become immigrants elsewhere. Mostly they move for a better life, better opportunities for families, and sometimes just for the sheer adventure of living unmoored in a new place. I moved away from my home when I was young to find a life different than the one I had back in India. Maybe like my uncle I thought this was the right move to have a better future; but unlike my uncle I didn’t have to bring any of my family here with me.

When you move far away to make your life better, you leave something behind…usually elder parents, other family. You lie to yourself saying you will be back one day but you never get back. Whether it is moving 350 km to Mumbai or 10000 miles to US, it is a move where eventually you will never look back. You have to make a life where you move in order to be successful, but the happier you are in new place the guiltier you sometimes feel about all that you have left behind.

I don’t know if my uncle ever felt the guilt or worry about his move decades ago (he wasn’t the kind of person to talk about his feelings), but he was very happy when his daughters moved to US, he felt that like him they were moving on to something better in life. I just wish I had asked him about all this when he was still coherent, I wish I had talked to him about how to immigrate when you leave half your life behind.

Work-Life or Worklife!

Work Optional

Would I work if I didn’t have to? Absolutely! Working, job, money, is more than just making a living for me. Being an unmarried Indian, I always have well-meaning relatives throw prospective grooms at me telling me to talk to them, and so many of them have asked me, “So would you continue working after getting married!” My answer is always an unequivocal YES.

Doesn’t mean I don’t hate waking up in the morning, of course I hate Mondays and love Fridays! But what I love even more is having my days crammed up with things to do-getting to work at 7:30 am, working non-stop until 4pm, going for a run/or groceries in the evening, getting home and cooking awesome dinner, still having time to read a few chapters, write a blog and having a feeling of complete satisfaction by the end of the day-it’s my current life and I am loving it! Of course, when I am working I am financially independent and I don’t feel guilty about indulging in little and big pleasures of life. But it is more than money it is the feeling that you can do everything that you want to…I love the feeling of being a scientist during the day, and being this artistic person who cooks, reads, writes in the evening. I of course love the financial freedom of wanting to travel where I want, when I want and not worry as much about money, or guilt of spending money which isn’t mine. Reading is my passion and I love cooking, sketching, painting and writing, but I don’t think I could enjoy all my passions as much I do if I didn’t love science as much. I work in cancer drug development and I would like to think that I am making a difference in someone’s life by trying to develop a safer anti-cancer drug. All my other passions would pale if I didn’t have this purpose in life, and this absolute need for science!

Does this make me smug? Perhaps just a tad! But I know how hard I have worked to come at this point in life. I wouldn’t give it all up for anything! Perhaps someday when I want to just relax and think about life just going by, I might give up working, until then I am ready to work my ass off and enjoy it!