Saturday, June 29, 2013

A year in the US

I never thought you were interested in going to US!

This is the reaction I heard from a couple of my friends & family members when I announced to them that I am moving to the US. I worked for Qualcomm, Hyderabad and got an opportunity to work in Qualcomm, San Diego. Like many opportunities, this one is a result of some good-luck and some personal effort. I decided to grab it and that surprised some people, including me!

What is the motivation to go to the US? Typically - money, life-style and growth opportunities. Among friends and colleagues, it is common to hear someone expressing their desire to go abroad. I never did. Added to that, I had the image of a "Swadesi guy" in the family. Hence the reactions.

Some 6 years back, I visited San Diego for 2 months on a business trip. I liked the place and the country but did not particularly feel any "pull" towards it. I like getting more money, but strangely money does not motivate me to do anything. Yes, the "quality of life" is better here. For most of us, quality of life is determined by external factors - No power cuts and mosquitoes, luxury cars, dust-free roads, people following traffic rules, cool electronic gadgets, efficient systems, very less corruption - the list goes on. I was irritated by lack of all these things in India but still that is not a reason good enough  to aspire for US.

To be honest, I sometimes felt a desire to go to the US. Couple of times I was jealous when I heard success stories of people in the US. I sometimes felt a "peer pressure", knowing that my friends could easily go abroad and I am "lagging behind" or "missing things" (This feeling of "missing out" the things/experiences/opportunities everyone else is having seems to be a common feeling. This either motivates you or frustrates you!). But the desire never progressed into a dream or an aspiration.

So why did I finally land in the US? There are some personal and professional reasons. But one main reason is this - to embrace the "US experience", fill it in my heart and come-out of it! However great and wonderful something may be, once you get hold of it, it will lose its shine. But if you don't get what you want, even small things can make life miserable. Ultimately life is much more than "getting things", but to realize it you should first get those things. And then, go beyond them.

How do I rate my 1 year experience? It has been quite good, in general. The people are more courteous but less authentic. Family bonding is substituted with close-knit friendships. You can be on your own, with no-one bothering you. No maid at home implies that you have to learn to be more self-sufficient. For some reason, I really like the weekly house-cleaning and maintenance routines. A new country and culture provide you many new experiences which helped to grow "as a person" and understand life better. In some sense, I can claim that my life got enriched by the 1 year stay in the US.

But India will be missed. You miss interacting with your parents, immediate family and close friends. You miss the "homely feel". But most importantly, you miss the "phenomenon of India", its "spiritual richness". If in India everything is connected to spirituality, in the US I find everything is connected to business. Of course, many people say that India is no longer spiritual, that it is getting westernized and becoming more and more materialistic. But for those who can feel it, India still offers its spiritual genius. After his return to India from US, Swami Vivekananda remarked that, "Now, even the dust of this country is sacred to me". That statement still holds true.

Life is all about "clarity". Clarity is needed primarily to separate what is "you" from what "you are not". Many of our desires and dreams are not really ours. Our society, environment and experiences shape our thoughts. To truly know what "you" want in life is the most difficult thing. When faced with a choice, this clarity helps in making the right decisions. I hope to gain more clarity about myself through my various experiences.

(Exactly one year back, on 29th June, 2012, I landed in the US.)



6 comments:

Deepak said...

This is an excellent post, Phani. We all need to nurture our aspirations, instead of letting them rust. More often than not, people fail to give a shape and direction to their dream.

The last paragraph about clarity is very thought provoking. Very well written.

- Deepak Karamungikar

Vasu said...

--- Life is all about "clarity". Clarity is needed primarily to separate what is "you" from what "you are not". Many of our desires and dreams are not really ours. Our society, environment and experiences shape our thoughts.

To truly know what "you" want in life is the most difficult thing. ---

Spot on.

Me Inc said...

Loved the write-up! So succint yet clear enough. Whatever be the reasons, I'm glad we moved here and I have personally learnt a lot of things, most important being discipline and running along with the clock.

PS - My list of "go beyond them" is only increasing by day. Please look into them too ;)

Madhuri Rupaakula said...

Excellent post. As you said, there are many things in the US which impress us especially law and order, discipline in the people.

Grass on the other side is always greener but yeah, I aspire to go to the US and be there for a couple of years... :-)

My husband is just like you. He prefers India any day. Hope he changes :-P

Vinita V. Ott said...

It is nice to read this post of yours about your 1 year experience of living U.S. It is interesting that I have lived here since 1985 & there is still part of me will never find in U.S, what I had in India. Like you, the close family & extended family connections, the simple times with friends & family, the spirituality, the feeling of just to be. Yes, live is easier because of less pollution, ease of getting around, living alone is safer, no one bothers you, yes you need to make appointment to visit a friend. But then, is that what I really want in my life. I am still wondering.

Phanindra KSM said...

Thanks Vinita for the comment! I don't even remember I wrote this post! Good to know that people are still reading this!