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!