On the contrary, I had quite a few options and I chose to come to the US because that is all I ever wanted to do.
Here’s a little bit of background about me to give context to both the heading and the purpose of this article.
- I was born and raised in India.
- I was not born into a poor family.
- I had access to (good) education all my growing years.
- India is a peaceful country.
- Most of my family lives in India, and they are all nice people.
Now that those facts are out of the way, let me try to explain why I felt the urge to state those.
Too often, when I read the news, I get the impression that media projects the wrong impression that folks migrate to America because they had few other options – it is almost always a sob, sorry story of rags to riches. While the beauty of this land is that it is generally welcoming to folks from all backgrounds, it is inaccurate to paint a picture of the US as a place to only consider when you are persecuted in your own countries, or if there is something real bad happening there. Yes, we definitely will continue to be a country that gives people that second, third or nth opportunity to make a lovely living for themselves, but it is imperative that we also project ourselves as a better place to be even if you are not actually suffering wherever it is that you are at. You come to America not just because there are issues in your country, but also because it is a wonderful country and there simply is no place else like it. Period.
Despite all its shortcomings, America is the best country in the world. For a lot of us.
And here are some reasons why I think I am blessed to live in the best nation in the world.
I’ve done a fair bit of travel in my life (not as much as I would like to, or a lot of other people, but I have seen a little bit of the world). And every time, I am in a foreign country, I realize how much more of a home America is to me. Yes, I grew up in India but, at this point, I’ve lived well more than half my life in the States, starting with the first penny (or dollar) that I earned in my life, which happened to be in this country as well (and it was literally in the “country” – in a small town in Ohio!).
They say that when you migrate, time stops. And your awareness of those places is stuck in time. What that translates to is that you are culturally disconnected from your place of birth, and as time passes, you become more and more detached to the point that most of the early childhood years start feeling like nothing more than distant memory. I say this because whatever it is that I end up sharing about India is likely very dated (so take it with a grain of salt).
So, as “different” as I may look, or talk (oh yeah, the accent takes 2 lifetimes to leave you, trust me!), I don’t honestly ever feel like an immigrant (except when I watch the news where they beat this word to death). Does it mean America is utopia, and there are no issues, whatsoever? Of course, not. I may be silly but am certainly not that stupid. However, we have to discuss these issues in the context of Planet Earth, and the rest of the countries that it comprises of.
Life is not fair. I’ve heard more than 1 super accomplished person say that (starting from Bill Gates, to Schwarzenegger, to Will Smith, to Matthew McConnaughey). But, I don’t think it is fair to blame that on a country, unless the system promotes it. And I strongly believe that our system does not promote it. Sure, certain organizations and individuals may exploit certain loopholes, but I don’t think I would place the blame on the system in entirety, and I say this as someone, whose experience is not solely limited to living in the United States.
As an immigrant, you are bound to make a ton of sacrifices, because a better life doesn’t come at the cost of nothing. First and foremost, you don’t live close to your family (No, that’s not a good thing!). Next, you’ll miss all the festivals you dearly love (for me, one of them is coming shortly – Diwali!). If you are wondering why I might miss them when there are quite a number of Indians in the US who celebrate Diwali (and other such festivals), and there seem to be a lot of gatherings and parties around this time (I mean, in a more normal world, not in this day and age of lock downs), I suggest you celebrate one Christmas in Chennai, India (where I come from)! You’ll surely realize what I mean by this.
Sure, going back to living in India would help satiate some of these needs and wants,but I have no doubts that I will be as lost (and most likely, more lost) as I was when I grew up in India. The only thing I ever understood (even if to a partial extent) when I lived there was my family, and friends, and some of the courses (certainly, not Mechanics & Optics, or Thermodynamics!) I had enrolled in College. That apart, I was pretty much lost. I didn’t understand the system one bit – not the traffic regulations, not the application forms, not the bureaucracy (as much of it that you could be subjected to, as a 17-18 year old), and not a number of other things. India is a very nice country but it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
I landed in Houston, Texas when I first arrived in the US, and I fell in love with America right way (barring the freak out sessions that went like this, “Oh my Goodness, what did I do. I know no one here. I want to go back”). I didn’t understand a lot of it then, and I still don’t understand a lot of it now. But, the beauty of the land is that you do not have to understand or accept everything. Making social connections is a whole lot harder than professional ones, I’ve realized, as crossing the seas on a plane and getting somewhere in a few hours is made possible by technology, but technology doesn’t necessary bridge the cultural divide, not in lightning speed at least.
But, the beauty once again lies in our differences as much as it is in our similarities. It would be boring if we are all too alike.
At this point, you may ask (and justifiably so) what the purpose of this article is, and what am I trying to get that. And to that, I would say one of 2 things – (1) be a tiny bit more patient, and (2) You didn’t sign up for a Pulitzer prize winning author’s article in nytimes, did you? So, don’t expect too much 🙂
But, I do have a point (as long winded as I might be, getting to it). Too often, I see America projected as a place to consider when you have no other options, or you or your country is in a state of turmoil. And that offends me as someone who loves this land for what it truly is. It is a place to be even if you are not struggling, and even if you have plenty of other options, and that’s simply because, you will not feel as much at home anywhere else as much as you feel at home here (not even in your place of birth, at times). And yes, I say this, as a colored person who doesn’t understand a ton of things about America.
Despite what we see in the news, I think there is more unity in America than in most places in the world. And we surely will become even more united.
While each of us finds inspiration in different things, here are some things about America that continue to blow my mind (I used the word “things” loosely because as someone who isn’t a native English speaker, I can’t immediately think of a better English word, and even that shortcoming is perfectly alright in America!).
- Where else do you have someone like Clint Eastwood who has been making movies to satisfy so many generations? My dad used to watch his movies growing up, then I did, and now my son does.
- Where else do you have someone like the Wright brothers, or Steve jobs, or Dennis Ritchie, Thomas Alva Edison (maybe, UK – another country I love!)?
- Where else do you have something like Hollywood that entertains the whole world?
- Where else do you have companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Tesla, or Facebook, Uberthat continuously innovate, and change the way we all live everyday?
- Where else do you have a New York City (simply the best city in the world)?
- Where else can you get pizzas this (super) size? 🙂
- Where else do you get the opportunity to interact with people from all parts of the world?
- Where else can you enjoy the beauty of all races, religions, sexes, and everything else that actually unitesus?
- (…and one day not so much in the distant future, I hope this list will include Snowpal, and the productivity improvements it has brought to this world!)
I made my first dollar in the US, I got my first job in the US, my wife and I met for the first time in the US, my son was born in the US, I bought my first used & new car in the US, I bought my first home in the US, I founded my first company in the US, I built my first product in the US, I built my first Mobile App in the US, and during the course of my lifetime, there will be a lot more of these…
So, to everyone who has ever tried to tell me that America may not be the best country in the world, I will say this: you are dead wrong.
Yes, we have a number of issues as a nation, but who doesn’t? I am confident that America will get through all of this, and we will continue to be the best country in the world, a country that is not only welcoming to anyone & everyone who has a desire to lead a better life but also serves as an incomparable source of inspiration to every human on Planet Earth (and beyond) for years and generations to come. I have no doubts.