Anupama writes a letter to her 18-years old daughter. Read what she has to say.
NRI women who marry and come to the US or any other country often battle a lot of problems being so far away from home and everything familiar. But there is a way to deal with that.
Getting married and then coming across the world is not a joke. Whenever I meet any newly married NRI wife or someone who has recently come to the USA, they usually complain about the lifestyle here.
Recently, I came across a new resident in our complex who has been in the USA for 3-4 years. I was with my son in the play area. During a casual conversation, we exchanged our interests and other things. She said, “There is no help here. Everything we have to do on our own. We don’t get any free time after finishing up house chores. How do you manage to find time for yourself and your writing with all the chores? I get so bored here. Nothing to do. No friends. I was working in India full-time but here, I have visa issues. I feel so depressed sometimes.”
I said “I have gotten used to of this lifestyle now.” I tried to talk to her while I was in the play area, but then it was time for me to come home.
This wasn’t the first time I came across such a discussion, and every time I meet NRI women and get to hear their thoughts, I recall my initial days in the USA. I too had a few days when I felt slightly bored as I didn’t have many friends at that time. But I never got depressed. If I think of the reasons then two main reasons come to my mind.
Before coming to the USA, I knew it will be slightly different (okay I admit challenging) here. I gave myself enough time to adjust.
And a big thank you to my better half who never pushed me to get molded in the so-called US lifestyle. Here, I am not talking about the dress or eating habits. I was and still am Indian at heart in spite of living outside India for almost 12 years now. By readiness, I am talking about the change; the cultural shift I had to encounter and along with that the readiness to accept the reality of not able to work.
It’s always the initial days (or say 6 months) that are the most challenging. If you can pass this phase then it is much easier later. I would definitely say, here my hobbies helped me a lot.
We all have heard nothing goes in waste when you learn with positive spirits. I had learned to make imitation jewelry in India only because I wanted to learn something new. That learning gave me my first dollar bill here. I got my first customer who was interested in Indian jewelry and that gave me a good pastime. I learned many new things later, and even now, I am always in search of learning and experimenting with something new.
These are the two main reasons that put any NRI woman in a tough situation. There are others.
If not getting enough help in household chores is one area NRI women struggle with, then “there is no one to talk to” is another challenging area they have to deal with.
I agree, unlike in India, here you will not get tons of people to talk to. There will not be a bunch of people ready for your welcome when you step abroad. But don’t you think that gives you a chance to step out of your comfort zone and meet new people? Look for groups where you can find like-minded friends. It will take time but it’s not impossible. Your areas of interest might be different but it’s okay.
Many of you must be thinking why am I talking about this in the end. Correct?
I think when you are an NRI woman, then the first thing is to change the definition of happiness. Happiness is not only measured by whether you are following your career dreams or if you have enrolled in a Masters program and are looking forward to starting school.
I had faced these questions like “why don’t you take GRE and get a Masters so that you can work here?” I had my own reasons for not taking that route.
Yes, I too had many weak moments. I am also a human being after all. This woman also used to get hurt when people would ask her why you are not trying for jobs? OR Why don’t you think about doing a masters? OR What are your plans for the future? OR Are you not planning to start working? You will get bored after some time etc. etc.
Initially, it used to affect me. I wanted some kind of job satisfaction (I guess). And that’s where I was wrong. For whom did I wanted that satisfaction? Maybe because people around me were asking me these questions. But when I started to do what I like and enjoy, the satisfaction I got was priceless. The happiness I experienced was precious.
So, to all NRI wives, don’t think that a job is the only thing that will give you the satisfaction and happiness, or that if you don’t have a job then you are useless.
Not at all. Use this time to learn new things. Don’t sit ideal. We all have hobbies – explore them. Utilize your time by keeping yourself busy. Change the definition of happiness. You have come across the globe so you are strong. Don’t let your positivity get affected by the three and six letter(s) words job, career. Embrace the culture and people around you with open heart.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: a still from the movie The Namesake
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I am a blogger at MothersGurukul, author of "A Girl In The New Town", freelance
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