Life over the horizon

It has been rightly said by Christopher McCandless, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and therefore there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, to have a new and different sun every day”.

When I was a teenager, the West seemed, as always, the epicenter of possibilities and opportunity. Through this article I would like to share my experiences as a young immigrant in the Western world over the past 20 years. I was only fifteen years old when my parents decided to move our base from India to the United States of America. As a young teenager, like everyone else at that age, I was very excited about the idea of ​​immigration and becoming a US citizen, and exploring that part of the world that I had read so much about in the books. Coming from an armed forces background my life has always been adventurous and fast moving with exposure to many states, cities, cultures and beautiful diversity that is India. Like all Fauji (army) kids, as they are called, I lived in a very adventurous yet protective environment where we are somehow spoiled to the core with comfort, security and down to earth joys of life. I loved that life.

I finished my exams and we first traveled to the UK for a vacation which was amazing and enchanting, my first international exposure and then we reached the dream destination of all the US. The first few weeks were like a dream, where everything was perfect, we vacationed in Washington, Orlando and Seattle. Then we slowly got into the realities of life and challenges of new immigrants. I went to a school where I felt lonely and strange because my accent was different from most of the others and I couldn’t quite understand the spoken language of many students and vice versa. My way of thinking and also the concept of my public school education was very different in India but soon my teachers started to understand the inherent strength of my educational knowledge base including the grammatical correctness of my written English which was lacking in my classmates. In addition, I got a summer job at the airport where we had to help passengers in every way, language, disability, location guidance, etc. On the very first day I helped a passenger to a certain destination at the airport, she tipped $5. I took the money but as soon as I got home I cried my heart out to my father and said that in India we tip the poor and here I get a tip. I felt small. My father tried to explain to me that it’s the culture here and nothing is wrong, this is the way to show politeness, but I was too upset to understand at the time. So this was my first experience of the new culture of the west. My job went on all summer, and I remember when I didn’t get a tip at the end of the summer, I got mad that I wasn’t making enough pocket money. I met an older gentleman, a co-worker who I learned had just retired as a Boeing senior manager.

He told me he didn’t necessarily have to work, he could just sit in his big house and just garden. He just came there to have fun. In another case, we found a war veteran, a US Navy officer, driving a taxi. He said he did it for fun, since in no other profession does he meet so many strangers with whom he likes to hang out. There I learned the value of human dignity. No work is small, and no work makes you feel bigger than your life size. The political and business class here can learn a lot from them. Then I went back to my school. I gradually got used to the new environment, but I missed my life in India to the bone. At any opportunity I would be willing to rush back to India. In the years that followed, I experienced many aspects of the new society, some of which were good and others that made me think. We often traveled to Vancouver in Canada, only two hours away with beautiful views. Another aspect I learned is that Indians abroad tend to be more cohesive Indians than they are in their home country where they remain rudderless.

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My life continued with periods of residence in India and America. People in India envied me where I envied them. Then came a phase in my life where I moved on, did my professional education and joined Bank of America in the investment business. I was doing well professionally and had no conflict with Western life by now. We generally traveled to India once a year and now I started to see the positivity in my new country of residence as well. I started to realize the scope of the opportunities there. The quality of life whether you’re rich or poor it’s basically the same as when you eat similar foods you get all the basic comforts of life quite easily there’s dignity of labor dignity of every work you do and especially no corruption at the level of the life of the common man. It has taken me many years to understand this, but I now know for sure what I am today, because of the multiple exposure I have received in my life. I’m not saying there wouldn’t be problems as an immigrant, there certainly would be because we come from a different culture and upbringing and are going through the agonies of transformation. But that’s all a phase, like the first time a little kid is put in a boarding school and cries under a sheet.

Today, my relatives are well settled in America, where the children are doing very well and getting the best education and opportunities. I have lived in the US for 15 years and have had many opportunities to see the world around me, West and East, both offering a quality lifestyle to the enterprising fortune seekers. I am back in India equally comfortable running my own Immigration and Visa business after completing my Masters in International Business. I myself am an immigrant who has seen the best of life in India and then experienced the struggles of a new immigrant, a phase of wanting to run back to life in the home country, now in a phase where I love both the worlds equal for what they have given me and my family.

Today I am the Director of AKKAM Immigration and Allied Services which provides solutions and fulfills all requirements related to immigration, study visa and related services to multiple destinations around the world. I feel that all immigration consultants and agents can guide clients with authenticity if they have first-hand experienced the realities, challenges and opportunities in immigration businesses. I would always advise all my clients, friends and family that life is a one time blessing, spread your wings and experience the movement towards the horizon, there is much awaiting you, distant dreams, some dark clouds and beautiful colors beyond the horizon.