I had never withdrawn money before coming to America.
That is neither representative of a typical twenty-year-old in India nor does it mean I was a brat demanding money from my parents whenever I needed it. It just means I came from a cash economy where I didn’t need a card, and that my dad never trusted me with a debit card anyway.
It doesn’t stop there. Learning to live in America has given me a lot of firsts. The third world and first world problem tropes feel very warped in my head.
Think about it. If I were living in India right now, chances are I’d still have the comforts of house help for cleaning the dishes, mopping the floors, and perhaps even preparing all three meals for each day. My only concern in life would be my job. Sounds comfortable, right? The catch is that I’d be living with my parents and/or living off of my parents. So I would never know what part of that comfortable life was my own doing and what life skills I was capable off.
Life in America? I work, cook, do my own groceries, clean, maintain friendships here and relationships back home. There is no house help because who can afford that anyway? I recently also made my own furniture because apparently, that’s what life is like here, and basically live a fully-functioning life at the cost of extreme exhaustion. I have to stay on top of my game to make sure I don’t starve to death the day I come home from work late and there’s nothing in the fridge ready to eat or to cook. I also figured out the tax paperwork of a whole new country and filed it on my own for two years in running. It’s a lot of work. A lot of my time of day is gone not investing in my work and in furthering my career, which makes me question how productive you can be here. Where did the first-world luxury go? And if I do have a semblance of first-world luxury, then what does it enable me to do?
My mom laughs every time she hears about how I keep up with life here.The reason I bring up all of this is because I’m starting to feel like the excuse that I didn’t grow up here is getting old. It doesn’t work anymore. It’s still a 100 percent true and still 100% explains a 100% of why I don’t have the same experiential education like most people do my age. Like when I was supposed to pack up my desk belongings in a cardboard box because my office was moving to a new space and I felt like I didn’t know how to do it because I didn’t grow up here. It felt completely dumb to think that because I just had to tape the cardboard into a box, but never having done it before and never having seen my parents pack things to move in a cardboard box to move before (not in my conscious memory), I felt like this was not something I knew and it wouldn’t be something I would have to deal with if I was still in India. Why I feel dumb about using the growing up explanation here is because I should know it, right? Or everyone has to learn it or do it at some point. So I should stop using that explanation as an excuse for everything.
And that’s when I realized. A lot of experiences in my adult life are happening for the first time now and it just happens to be in America. It would be done differently, sure. But I’m still growing up… Can I still say that when I’m 24? Well, let’s say, I’m still experiencing new things.
On that note, I’ve also come to the realization that it may also be that India is also doing things differently from how I’ve known it to be. Because my knowledge of India is now three years out of date and I have no way to keep evolving it unless I go back to live there for a good, long period again. So my knowledge of India is embedded in nostalgia. And that’s soon going to be too old to be functional. *Gulp*
Moving to another country has both, short-term and long-term consequences. I’ve seen the short term stuff. But I’ve always seen India as a given constant of my life. I guess this is the beginning of the long-term consequences and part one of the realization that I’m not in India anymore.