More than three years back, I wrote this.
A few days back, I was talking to a friend who was frustrated with the lack of rootedness in her life. The conversation made me revisit my own lack of rootedness, and the long, winding journey in nomadic frustration my life has been so far.
When I went to the US in 1998, I didn’t expect my life to be this chaotic. I thought I’d finish my degree in civil engineering, get a job in the US, start working and either settle down with the same job, or work in the same job there for a few years, come back to India, and settle down here for good. I didn’t expect to end up unhappy in a civil engineering career, pick up software programming, and do a series of software gigs all over the US for the next few years, essentially living out of two suitcases.
When I finally found a stable gig in early 2004 that lasted nearly 4 years, I thought I was all set. I was doing all the right things to get my green card and settle down in the US for good. Then at the end of 2007, the stable gig ended, my green card process got messed up, and I ended up moving to New Jersey to find a new gig and begin a slow and painful period of uncertainty for me and my wife, where she was stuck in a short term dead-end academic career while I was waiting for the adjudication on my green card appeal, mentally prepared to be kicked out at any time if the decision didn’t go my way.
That piece I’d written at the end of 2008 portrays my frustration at the time pretty well.
Since then, all we have found so far was more uncertainty. We moved to Singapore at the end of 2010, where I tried to get a job in vain for a year as I was overqualified in terms of years of experience, while my wife struggled to find her post-academic feet, overqualified in a different way. I tried to immigrate to Australia, where they said everything looks good on paper, except I shouldn’t have been out of a job all these months, and closed the door on me.
Then we moved back to India, and I got a good stable job, and I finally thought we were done with our wanderings. Except, they’ve been trying to send me overseas from day one because of my prior experience overseas. This possibility always leaves me with mixed feelings because I never know if the country I’d visit would seduce me into wanting to settle down there, and if I’d sign up for more uncertainty in that hope.
They recently tried to send me to the US again for a gig so sweet I was pretty excited about the idea of going back to the US for something that could be for more than a year. I was very hopeful that we’ll both be back there by October. We were excited about the prospect of visiting all the places we haven’t had a chance to see yet in the US, and meeting all our old friends again.
This possibility kept us from really accepting that we have come back to India for good. For both of us, the US still feels like home a lot of times. In fact, a lot more than India does, to be honest.
This weekend was a bit bittersweet because the US gig fell through. They called me on Friday evening and told me. They said they can try to send me again, but now it can only be next October, thanks to the bureaucratic complexities of the work visa quota.The sweet part of bittersweet though is that it is finally sinking in for us that we will be in India for good. And with that realization comes the excitement that we can finally grow roots. I would not have thought in a million years that I would settle down in Pune, but that is how the dice have rolled. Although I can’t stop wondering what the future has in store for us.