Our move was a success by any metric. My wife and I are software professionals, and our careers flourished at an Indian rate of growth (R.I.P., “Hindu rate of growth”). Our daughter attended a preschool in Bangalore whose quality matched any in the Bay Area. Our three-bedroom flat in Defence Colony, Indiranagar, was so comfortable and so American-friendly that my friends called it the Green Zone.
A month later, we were back in California.
Anyone who’s written about India has at some point claimed that there are two or at most three Indias, whether “airplane India” or “scooter India” or “bullock cart India.” Maybe they stop at three because it is difficult for the reader to imagine more.
Early on, all the metaphors rang true. I’d see bullock-cart India beg from scooter India while scooter India was getting honked at by airplane India.
But then the metaphors started to fade and the daily grind set in. I stopped noticing India’s newness, oldness and juxtapositioned-ness. Within weeks, I had joined the honking swarm driving in Bangalore. I knew a guy who could repair anything from my daughter’s talking Barney to our Bose Wave radio. I could sweet-talk an auto-rickshaw driver into not fleecing me (even though I was Kannada-challenged). Everything felt familiar, normal, unremarkable, as it should be; I was in India.
Three months after our return, after a friend told me that his two children were sick with amoebiasis — he thought they got it from their maid — my wife and I designated a separate set of dinnerware for our maids. It’s more hygienic.
Within six months, I’d brusquely refused my driver an emergency loan of 500 rupees ($10) to attend his grandmother’s funeral. I’d learned my lesson after our previous driver scammed me into paying for his son’s broken leg (as it turned out, he had no son). It only encourages them to ask for more; besides, they’re all liars.
Near the first anniversary of our return, I had my first road-rage incident: I verbally abused a hawker who was blocking the road. I’m not going to let bullock-cart India make my daughter late for her school admission test.
The hawker glared but scampered away, the road cleared, and, as I walked back to my car, I saw something new and disturbing in my driver’s eyes: respect. I don’t know how my daughter felt because I couldn’t look her in the eye.
Very interesting story about India