Immigrant stories · Lifestyle

My New Life

As I sit here wondering what my first post should be about, I guess the best thing would be to properly introduce myself. I don’t think it suffices just to say that I was born in India and that I moved to Jersey City, United States to teach at a Montessori school. Neither is it enough to say that I no longer teach there; Nor that I am trying my hand at blogging and sharing my immigrant life through stories and photos on Instagram. So lets see what I can do in a few hundred words.

In 2011, I got offered a job here in the United States and took it. Ashwin, my husband and I decided to try a new life. We took the leap. I was to move first and get started. He was to join me in a couple of months.

I hadn’t fully realized that I had moved away from Hyderabad even a few months into my stay in Jersey City. I guess it was only when I spelled favorite as ‘favourite’ and a six year old student stared at the word in bewilderment and said,  “Ms. Tara I don’t think I have ever seen it spelt that way before!”. Obviously as time went on I realized that spellings weren’t the only things different about ‘my British originated English.’ I had to now speak “American,” a six year old pointed out. By and by, stumbling on several occasions; calling a shopping cart a ‘trolley’ and asking for a dustbin while looking for a trash can, Ashwin and I now speak pretty fluent ‘American’. At least I think we do! 🙂

In my first week in America, I had to apartment/house hunt. Things were unlike what I had seen. Indian rental apartments were very different. Entire buildings in the United States were rentals! Who knew? Besides, they came with a fridge, cooking range and microwave. Indian apartments came without those, but were always fitted with enough ceiling lights and lots of shelves in their cupboards. Imagine my surprise when my bedroom (or bed enclave in our initial studio) did not have a light. Not having shelves, I went out and bought unshapely hanging shelves which stored my clothes and stuff in a complete crumpled mess.

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First day in the ‘light less’ studio. The airbed was borrowed from a colleague. On hindsight I would rather have slept on the floor! Waiting for the mattress to be delivered.

Growing up, I had watched a lot of Hollywood movies and spoken English, but that did not stop me from the culture shock I got when I sat with a group of people that spoke about ‘Zombies’, ‘Pot brownies’, ‘Ren fairs, ‘Beer’ and ‘Doctor Who’!!!! Doctor what?? Scared to ask, I awkwardly laughed at everything that I thought need a laugh. If a sentence had words like “wacked”, “barf” or gesticulate, I grinned broadly. I opened my mouth as if I was going to respond to something but shut it because of a lack of gap in the conversation, convincing myself that I was at least trying to say something. I struggled to fit in. I guess I still sometimes do!

Oh!! How can I even begin to explain how difficult ‘seasons’ were??!! I grew up with 365 days being summer and here I had to deal with barren trees and twenty degree fahrenheit   winters! Besides lugging groceries from a grocery store and walking through 2 feet of snow was anything but what a five year old me, imagined snowy days to be.

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My first week in Jersey City. The NYC skyline.

Since I quit my stressful job after three years, a few things have changed. I have had the time and mental space to build my home. I know what a foyer does in homes here and have managed to make and collect art i enjoy hanging on the walls. The apartment now has plants and some shelves :). It has a few lamps, but needs way more. It is work in progress.

‘New York black’ and neutrals in the home and clothes make me crave the colors I was used to seeing in India. The colors make me happy. I wanted them in my home and on me. Over the last year, I have found incredible stores; stores I am addicted to and swear by. These places seem to love pattern, color and texture as much or more than me!! All along, I missed my comfortable cotton, pretty clothes from India. Now I have them! I think a sense of style that defines me in the United States is finally taking shape.

I have learnt so much from teaching and quitting that it would like to share it. I took a few writing classes in Manhattan and shared my stories. My classmates seemed to get a kick out of them. I have things to say about moving and growing up and just my view on life here.

Well! A blog it is!

Maybe another immigrant or traveler to New York (or even the United States) may benefit from my stumbling incidents. I hope to share my stories, experiences, joys and sorrows in making this country home. On this journey there will be little stories from my youth and childhood, food ( vegetarian), travel and lots of laughs (I hope).

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A camera shy me getting uncomfortable as Ashwin insists he take my photo. Spring of 2015
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