How is life for Indian people in the USA?

alt Jul, 31 2023

The Great (Indian) American Dream

Growing up in India, America–the land of opportunities, wide roads, beautiful houses, and a quality of life beyond comparison–had always been a subject of awe for me. We'd sit on our rooftops, chatting about this far-off paradise, wondering what it would be like to actually live there. A good two decades later, a whole lifetime from my childhood in the crowded lanes of Delhi, and a breathtaking 15,247 kilometers away from my homeland, I sit here in sunny Perth, reminiscing about an adventure that took me, yours truly, halfway around the globe. Today, we discuss the experiences, joys, challenges, and revelations that our fellow Indians encounter when they step onto Uncle Sam's land. Let's unfold the American canvas from an Indian perspective.

The Initial Hurdles: Tales from First Generation Indian Immigrants

As an Indian, no matter how well prepared you are, the US can still come as a shock. For starters, navigating the roads is an elaborate game of chess, where each square moves at 60 mph or more! While you're still grappling with the road signs, you realize that the language here is English, yet somehow not the English you learned back home. Even the jargon of Indian English–"prepone", "revert back"–mysteriously evaporates, replaced by words creeping out of American sitcoms. Also, let's not forget, cooking can become a survival skill. Surviving on pizzas might not be the best idea for a balanced diet. Yes, these are a little on the funny side, but you can't deny the humor in adjusting to a new life.

The Dilution Effect: Cultural Ebb and Flow over Generations

While the first generation grapples with newness, the second generation faces a different conundrum–to balance the Indian culture they are born into and the American one they grow up with. Nikita, my lovely spouse, is of Indian ethnicity but born and raised in America. She would often share how she felt cornered between her Indian heritage and the American way of life. She loved Diwali, the Festival of Lights, as much as Thanksgiving. Yet there were times she struggled to balance these traditions. The third generation, born to parents who have been raised in an American society, often have little knowledge of their Indian roots and culture. This dilution effect is both fascinating and sometimes, a little heartbreaking as well.

Indian Americans: The High Achievers

Let’s talk about the high achievers among Indian Americans. Sworn into office in January 2017, Nikki Haley, a second-generation Indian immigrant, served as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. And let's not forget Sundar Pichai, the Google CEO, or Satya Nadella, who drives Microsoft’s success, or Indra Nooyi who took Pepsico to new heights, all immigrants from India. Undoubtedly, Indian Americans have left a significant imprint in every field, from IT and medicine to journalism and sports, pushing the glass ceiling one accomplishment at a time.

Indian Cuisine’s Delicious Inroads

No discussion about Indians in the U.S. can be complete without a mention of 'curry,' the unofficial ambassador of Indian food worldwide. Indian food has carved its niche in the American food scene, and it’s not just about curry. Go to any cosmopolitan city, and you will find an Indian restaurant serving delicacies like 'biryani,' 'samosas', and 'tandoori chicken'. Even home chefs and cooking enthusiasts are joining the league, hosting 'Roti-Rolls' and 'Naan-Pizza' parties. The American love for spices has certainly added an unexpected plot twist, as the doughnut-loving nation develops a palate for Indian spicy savories!

My journey from the busy lanes of Delhi to the peaceful suburbs of Perth, with a life-altering detour through America, has given me rich experiences, countless memories, and a deep appreciation for cultural diversity. For the Indians in America, it may not always be a smooth journey, but it surely is an enriching one. They carry with them their ethos, culture, and civilization, blending it with the colors of the American flag, painting a picture-perfect canvas of multicultural harmony.