Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Life in General..

I have been asked time and again about my first impressions of New Jersey and life in America in general. Today feels like a good day to talk about it.

I had no fair idea of life in New Jersey. It was never the place that I had in mind. US was always about California, Chicago or Washington for various reasons. I knew how things worked in New York because of my family friends and a few others who lived or have been living there.  For the longest time I believed that only people who could not afford New York City lived in NJ. Thanks to TV shows and cliches in general. 

Last year on an early August morning, I was getting ready for work when I got this call about a "potential" job opportunity. The catch was that it involved relocation to a different continent ASAP. It was a bit unsettling and everything just felt so surreal. I initially shrugged off the whole thing as a practical joke. The high rejection rates of L1 visa (almost 98%) didn't help either.  Little did I know that the process had began.
My parents weren't too encouraging about it either. Their concerns ranged from "things not working out" to moving away from my doctors in Delhi.  They were not in favor of this move and just wanted me to stay put. They thought I was being too impulsive and taking a huge risk. We had the war of words over something which they thought was "doomed". I don't know what it was but it kept me going. It felt like the right thing to do. I was done taking baby steps and I was ready for that leap of faith. It was now or never.

I turned to my favorite person and I still remember meeting over coffee and talking it out. My apprehensions, my cynicism, my skepticism and she countered them all. I think things happen when they are supposed to. When the visa was approved I was shocked and the next three months just whizzed by.  I was supposed to dismantle the house which I had built with so much patience, time and care. And all for what - Another chance, another shot, another chapter?  I didn't get a chance to pause, think and see what I was signing up for. I was busy wrapping up, setting expectations, constructing a new life, getting used to my new way of living.. 

The day I arrived here it felt so different. I had nothing in mind. I came with an open mind and so in a way I was more open to accepting and adjusting than most people who move out..  The accent never felt like a problem and thats mainly because of years of TV binge watching.  It was oddly familiar and yet new.
The hugeness entrapped me and it was the first thing that I noticed. Huge spaces, huge cars, huge houses, huge stores, huge portions, huge soda cans and it goes on and on.
The ads on TV are mainly about drugs and for serious conditions like cancer, arthritis, diabetes. I really found it weird because deciding on drugs and treatment is the doctors choice (should be?) and not the patients.

The service in the restaurants, malls, food joints is at times a little too much. You can't have a long drawn meal the way you do in Europe/ India. The waiters/ servers are always hovering over your head.
During my first week here I was buying groceries at the supermarket and the cashier was facing issues while weighing my vegetables. There was some problem with his software. I waited patiently for him to sort out the issue and the whole staff at the Kings supermarket was amused. They still remember me as the girl who waited patiently instead of shouting. Needless to say that the cashier later thanked a zillion times for not "creating a scene".

Politics is serious business and affiliations matter a lot. Your affiliations talk much more about you than you care to admit. Pro-life and Pro-Choice are considered seriously while making new friends too. Back home, politics is on our dining table, living room and even in our bedrooms. People back home discuss politics as a conversation starter, filler or just to put their point across.  Even though it is more serious here people don't discuss their views openly.

 The place where I am staying is a bubble. A very white, affluent, safe, highly educated, friendly and hilly neighborhood. There is no diversity. It is close knit and religion is important to people.  I see friendly faces all the time. Wishing each other, waving at each other, encouraging people pounding the pavements. I like it. The energy is infectious. One thing that I really found odd was my experience with majority of Indians here.  There aren't many Indians to begin with in this neighborhood and every time you come across an Indian they don't bother to wish you. Maybe the unspoken rule of the land is not for fellow countrymen.

Another thing that I noticed is the sense of belonging and ones duty towards local community. People leave no chance to contribute, participate and volunteer in local community events. The need to give back is very strong here.

All in all, I like it here. My luck never runs out with small towns. The architecture is superb. The farmers markets are just my thing. There are enough events to keep one entertained every weekend

It's amazing how life has changed in a matter of 11 months. It is surprising and unexpected. Last April, I was a train wreck and I like how things have progressed from there. This has given me a lot of hope. I look forward to experiencing more things..


  1. I am happy for you. You seemed to have settled and this post reflects a calm feeling throughout.

    I miss farmers markets and small towns. I am suited just for that kind of life, not really a mad, crazy, city life. :)

  2. I remember that nervous conversation over coffee and how life has moved on from there. I said it then and I still stand by my word that it was the right thing to do. The timing was right and I am happy that you took the decisions out of your comfort zone. You deserve the right to select people in your life. I feel proud of you.

    It will only get better.