Friday, August 10, 2007

2 Years in USA

Wanted to put this down on the 9th, marking the completion of two years of living alone. For a guy who hasn't stayed even a day without both my mother and father around, I have come a long way. And I think I can safely say that though my decision to come here to the US has cost me a lot in terms of familial ties and obviously, money, the amount of change (for good) I've undergone in this two years has been tremendous.

Some good changes in me:

1. Value of Money - The result of being a "chella" payyan for my parents resulted in me growing up with no respect for money. I still remember how I used to stow money in a crumpled condition into my wallet when I was in chennai. I think I would soiled and torn at least 2 - 3 notes by my negligence. This stay in the US, where for the first time in my life I lived on my own earnings taught me to respect and treat money with deference. I remember my dad saying "Unnaku paisa oda arumaie theriyale da" when I was in chennai and I used to think my dad was kinda repetitive and used to loathe him when he was in this kind of advise mode, but now I know that I was stupid then.

2. Value of Family: I always used to take my parents and sister for granted - I still remember how once when my mother and sister had to travel alone on stormy night and they had some travel problems and I had the gumption to sleep in chennai with the AC on full blast. If I even think about this now, I so very ashamed. (this happened when I was 15 years old - So no age consideration too). But I have realized how important family is and I call them almost once in two days.

3. Change of Character: I was always a reserved person in Chennai with strangers - I never used to like talking to people - I was very funny at home - It was like a PJ Mazhai at home from me and I was the exact opposite outside home - I used to be the silent kinds. Now the situation is the total opposite - I'm broody and laconic at home (US veetile), but velila vandha PETER-o-PETER!

4. Being Independent: One good thing for me has been that I have no close relative living in the US now has made me really like my stint here for these 2 years.. I've literally done things the way want it to be done. I really like the freedom. But with plans of going back to India by 2012 - 2015, this freedom might not be too long lived. I grew my hair, change my beard style everyday, sleep over in my friends' place, see movies at times I want (I was not allowed to go for night shows when I was in India ) . I love this kinda life. But in the same vein, I have not had the guts to perhaps try out things like smoking or boozing - Yeah, I'm one Pazham only!

5. Cooking: Knowing perhaps to "make" thayir and venner when I was in Chennai, it has certainly been a quantum jump for me in terms of cooking talents. Dishes which I have tried and succeeded in are: Sambar and Rasam (yeah, I struggled with even these when I started), Pulao, Fried rice, Paal Payasam, 'More' Kuzhambu, Vetha Kuzhambu, Chow-Chow Kootu, Pasta, Pulikachal, Aviyal, all 'currys' ( beans, potato, cauliflower and other cow food types), Kalandha sadham types (tomato, coconut, lemon), Dosai with chutney, Chappathi-subzi kinds. And the good thing is I have come to love cooking so much that I even cooked when I had gone to Madras in April.

6. Vegetarianism and Food Habits: When I left for the US, people did tell me that I will become a meat eater soon. But somehow, I have hung on to be a veggie. I'm proud to say that I'm a vegetarian by choice. And since many American restaurants don't have much variety for veggies, I have ceased to have a choice in food. I can eat anything vegetarian - with salt, without salt, properly cooked, uncooked, undercooked, HOT food, bland food, cow food (those elai-thazhai kinds), OATS and cereals (I can eat oats/cereals 3 times a day without any trouble) - anything is okay as long as they fill me. This did have a flip side though - when I went to India, I had a tough time convincing my mother not to make special foods for me. If I wanted to eat cereals for dinner, my mother started crying thinking I was used to it because of my penury in the US!

7. Religion and Spirituality: I had my upanayanam when I was in sixth standard and to be brutally honest, I never performed sandhyavandhanam on days other than Avani Avittam - Gayathri Japam. But when I saw muslims and christians pursuing their religion with such fervor, I was tempted to get back to doing sandhyavandhanam regularly and I have tried to know more about Indian history from the vedic ages, vedas themselves and about Sanathana Dharma in general. I see this as one of the unbelievable changes in me as I was an agnostic/atheist not long ago (2001).

It wouldn't be fair if I said the good things only. I have had some bad habits/characteristics I've developed in the USA:

1. Internet Addiction: For people who talk to me in Gtalk, you will perhaps know that I stay online 24X7. This has given me long sight and I'm still not able to kick the habit.

2. Sleep: My sleep habits are totally screwed up. While I had regular sleep hours in India (10pm - 4.30am), I've not seen 4.30 am any day in the US except on those days when I start sleeping at 6am. Pathetic!

3. Moody: While I was a smile always person in India, being alone most of the time has made me hugely moody. I talk to people when I want to and lots of times, I just refuse to take calls on my mobile simply because I'm not in a mood to talk.

So that's that. I know this one of those sentimental posts, but couldn't help it!


Blogeswari said...

good read, though a lot senti :)

Deepa said...

So your affnity towards hinduism is more a result of a competition you have with people from other religions?

Karthik Sriram said...

@ Deepa,

Yeah - I was always slightly pro hindu but was LAZY to do sandhyavandhanam - but i learnt how to be religiously assiduous from those people. They were kinda inspiration - thats it.


ambi said...

//I was always a reserved person in Chennai with strangers//

LOL ippo nee orkutla podara kadalai vaasam chennai varaikkum manakkuthu. :p

olunga sandhyavanthanam pannu, illati ummanchi kanna kuthidum.

note: here sandhya doesn't refers to "kadhal" film heroine.

Sudhakar said...

Sandyavandanam is good.But i am at ur old condition regarding that.Anyway nice realisations at nicer moments.

Jude ;-) said...

:) sweet you realized a lot of things. Life is good! :-)

Hows you?

Kaushik said...

Nice one, I'll be completing 2 years this August, and would prob. review myself then.
Till then,
1. Value of Money - have always valued money, in the sense that I never used to ask amma-appa for much, and what I had, used to love spending for friends if it was some prize, else I was damn stingy. Here, I look for every single cent. (No assistantship in IIT Chicago unlike UFL :)
2. Value of Family - noothukku eranooru :)
3. Change of Character - Have become more introverted and lonely here. College'la enna theriyadha aale kadayaadhu, inge naan oruthan irukkardhe roomies'kum rendu-moonu perukku dhan theriyum :P
4. Independence - similar situation as you, no significant change.
5. Cooking - ditto :D
6. Vegetarianism - Have always been passionate abt Vegetarianism. Have become even more staunch after coming here, totally stopped eating cakes and anything containing egg or processed alongwith egg. No eating outside like McD's or Burger King, etc, for fear of oil (Echa pasanga, ellaathaiyum sethu pannuva). So it's mostly Udupi Palace or Mysore Woodlands or Arya Bhavan, very very rarely, I go to an Indian restaurant with non-veg food, that too if there are too many friends and refusing would be insulting and inconvenient to others.
7. Religion & Spirituality - Having seen my appa do it everyday, my upanayanam, though late (8th std), have done gayathri jabam two times a day ever since, every single day, from abt 10th std, I had a teacher called Vaidehi mam who encouraged me to do full Sandhyavandanam, so continuing it here, but not often, but 2 velai's Gayathri japam sure :), sick habit of agaala velai :(
The bad habits, more or less the same.
Good one, on the whole, a character re-examination :)


Kaushik said...

Tekkinikkal pault...I thought u were in UFL, got it that u are in USF.

Rama Karthikeyan said...

Dude..u just wrote my life history..It just matches to the minute degree..weird!!

Sriram said...

As of yesterday, I completed 6 months being away from home. You just wrote my next post.

Preeths said...

I luv this post... I can relate myself to every single line of it...every single jus wondering if ur a piscean too!!! I simply luv ur post!!