I was supposed to start working in India yesterday, on April 2, 2012. Instead I’m still in California “visiting” my parents, trying to take some action on what I’ll do next in my life. I was supposed to be still living with the Tyagi family in my second floor flat with all of my “stuff” adorning the walls. Instead I spoke to the family on Skype this morning talking about how they’ve put all of my “stuff” into boxes in the spare bedroom until I’m ready to have it shipped. Fortunately for all another VSO volunteer will be living in the flat. I was supposed to be in New Delhi with all of its people, cows, dogs, traffic, pollution and garbage, where I’m so very happy, truly being me. Instead I’m in an area with blue sky, lots of walking trails, no garbage, hardly any people, a swimming pool, where I’m not overly happy, (yet that is). My heart and mind are still in India, where my selfish self wants to be.
I ran out of time in trying to renew my visa in India. In retrospect I should have just stayed until I had a decision one way or the other. I thought that there would be no issues in obtaining a fresh visa in the US. But after being rejected, and as I came to find out, I seem to be in the middle of some politics i as the US has been rejecting Indian professional visas at a very high rate. In the IndiaMIke forum I read about a young woman in a similar situation: “But what frustrates me the most is that there is a job of my dreams at the organization where I did my internship with a lot of pleasure and most importantly in the country where I want to live…”
As the month of March has gone by and I try to obtain assistance from my Indian friends, to see if they know of someone in the Indian Embassy, and my father pushes me to send e-mails to various US legislators, I realize how central India has become in my life. New Delhi has become my home. I so much appreciated the everyday contact that I had with my host family. Although my Hindi is fairly non-existent, I had relationships with all of the shop keepers, a smile and wave every morning on my way to the bus stop, a “Namaste” from the people living on the sidewalk, a greeting to any child that I passed on my way home in the evening, a “conhei?” or “who is it?” in Hindi when I rang the bell to be let into my home.
Three years in a country, building relationships, thinking that one could stay here for some time and be happy, contributing to another way of life stopped by the stroke of a pen. Intellectually I can understand this, countries have to promote that they are protecting their citizens. Although in the longer term, as I’ve come to realize from living in India, understanding how others work and incorporating this knowledge into how we work, benefits all. Emotionally, I’m somewhat of a mess as I tell myself that, “everything will be ok”. Internally my rumblings are great, as my body attempts to adjust to the lifestyle I once knew. My good friends and family have been very supportive, but now my contacts, my professional network is in India and in this moment I can’t go back.
So, what to do? I try to be hopeful, tell myself that there might be some way to talk to someone and make the case that this particular foreigner, out of all of those that have been rejected, should be given a visa, that I’m not taking any work away from citizens of India and actually creating some, that I really can help to make a difference for Indian society. On the other hand, I know that I need to start building some infrastructure for myself in the US, that I can’t be unemployed for a long period of time as I already know something about this from my part-time working life during 2008. I also know that living and working overseas is something that I just don’t want to give up.
It isn’t easy, but I know that. All of us go through “stuff” and it comes down to how we deal with the spouse that is sick, not having the money to do what we want, staying in a job because it is secure, growing old and not being able to do what you used to.
I’ll go on because it is the only way. I won’t give up and will get back to India if it is at all possible. Maybe it won’t be in the capacity that “I want”, but in another. I certainly won’t give up my dream of living in other countries once again. But for now if I must stay in the US, I’ll do what I can to make it “home”.