I am transported to a wooden house on stilts, mom says. “Godownstairs and pluck some vegetables for me, bring okra, coriander leaves,tomatoes, green chilies and also pluck few avocados and mangoes from the trees. I wish to make a delicious lunch today.”
I love doing these small errands for mom; it is like I amcontributing to the household chore in a small way, making my bit. Momdoes most of work on her own, we have a helper who comes to clean the house,but mom does all the cooking and gardening. She has planted somevegetables downstairs under my bedroom window, the soil is very rich, whatevershe plants, grows healthy and instantly. I love to cook too but I normally dothat when mom is busy elsewhere and I have kitchen for me to play around withingredients, try some recipes from the cook books or sometimes follow recipesthat are borrowed from friends.
Life in Surinam was beautiful; it offered good weather and fabulous food except that in the year 1986, situation in Surinam was getting worse.
People were getting arrested on the suspicion of planning a coup against Military rule. There was no freedom of speech, there was human rights abuse and we were hearing the stories of people disappearing overnight. Business was also not good; there were no good hospitals and no good school. Many people had migrated to Holland and Indians were planning to migrate to any another country as the future of Surinam didn’t look promising.
We were planning to migrate too
I had just returned from my school and was relaxing in my room. It was not easy teaching 10 children separately and at different levels. I taught in a small private English school in Surinam and most of my students were the expatriates mainly from Brazil and India. I enjoyed teaching but it was quite exhausting.
I sat reading in my room and the telephone rang. It was a long distance call from my sister in Spain. “Come to Spain” she said, “the business is good and the new laws are being passed and they are inviting investors, a new town is developing in the South of Tenerife, there is much scope for progress”
I had two choices,either to migrate to Spain or to USA. My maternal uncle lived in USA and he too called me regularly asking me visit him.
“You must visit me first, if you like it, I will apply visa for you” he said.
I had neither visited Spain nor USA; therefore I could not decide which place I could choose. If given a choice I would never want to migrate at all. I loved Surinam. I had good set of friends, a comfortable job and good working hours. The climate was good and food was fantabulous. The only drawback was the language. Dutch was the local language and the natives spoke Taki Taki. I found it difficult to learn any foreign language.
Maybe I had developed a very strong ego too.
I had an ethnic taste. I made lot of money selling my art work. I specialized in Indian art work/painting and was often invited by friends from Indian Embassy in organizing various cultural programs. Many times I believed that I was quite talented and could survive at any place. Europe or America, what did it matter, I felt that the world was just waiting for me; it seriously needed a talented person like me. What I didn't want was to learn a new language. I asked my sister if English was spoken in Spain and she said ‘Yes” My family respected my opinion and they were willing to go to any place I chose.
I chose Spain.
Wrong choice I made, because on arriving Spain, I discovered that nobody spoke English, even the TV programs were dubbed in Spanish. Maybe my sister misunderstood my question when I had asked her if English was spoken in her country. Maybe she wanted us to live closer to her and therefore she lied.
My ego shattered into small pieces when I discovered that nobody was interested in talking to me because I could not converse in their dialect. I wanted to converse with people but language was a huge barrier. I wasted two years of my life learning the language. I couldn't find job because Spain had strict rules and nobody can work without work permit. I worked in my brother’s retail store selling electronic goods and gift items, most of the time I was bored. Moreover, I hated the weather in winter, each night I shivered like snake under covers during winter.
Europe is beautiful and even more beautiful on post cards but I could not adjust to the people, to the bland taste in food and the climate. After staying for 10 years in Spain, I decided to move back to India.
If I had to live my life all over again, I would choose America.
I always feel my life would have been completely different had I chosen to live in US of America instead.
My friend says, "We are the choices we make." she read about my experience and said "I am sure you are richer for all the experience you have gained and now appreciate Mumbai better, maybe dirty, crowded, lazy but it is your own Mumbai"
Yes true, after traveling around the world and living in many places, I have learnt to appreciate Mumbai lots more, I am happiest in Mumbai because I have the freedom of movement; I love the
warmth of weather and people here. I have come to realize that it's not the infrastructure (although to certain extend, it is) but to be surrounded by the warmth of affectionate people is more rewarding perhaps.....
Another friend said, “Very interesting life! I was curious if you felt that as though the experiences in Spain taught you something, did you glean insights there that then helped you grow as a person? How did you recover from the shattered ego post-Surinam?”During my growing up years I was very aggressive, egoist and was very opinionated. But living in Spain, and not being able to communicate with others forced me to spend more time with myself. This perhaps changed me; I became introvert, reserved and soft spoken. The more time I spent with myself the more sensitive I became to people’s problems. I think I have become a better person. I don’t take anything for granted anymore. Moreover had I migrated to USA, maybe I would have never returned to the school for mentally challenged where I play a very important role of getting funds for the school and upgrading the lives of underprivileged in the best way I can.
But then, it’s all destiny....
|Image source from web|
Today's Post is a response to the GBE2 prompt: "If I had to Live my life over"