We would think slavery doesn’t exist anymore. But, when I think of my first few months in America, it is hard to believe that it doesn’t exist anymore.
The journey from India to the fabled land of promise was itself an experience. We were flying to Detroit from Bangalore with a stop over at Frankfurt. The flight was earmaked with Vikas crying a lot. Though we had a basinet, it was hard for us new parents to figure out why a 5 month old baby kept on crying. The Airhostess was kind enough to get him a feeding bottle with milk and then seemed to have quietened him a bit. There were two small children who were excited by the baby (while he was crying no adult would have been!) and would keep visiting him and were delighted to see him. We somehow managed to get to Frankfurt. In the waiting lounge, we happened to meet two Indian young men – Siva and Sriram, but joining the same company as I was. They helped out quite a lot with being with Vikas and helping us out.
In Frankfurt, at immigration check-in, the blue coated officer reminded me of the police of the war days with sharp, cutting eyes trying to uncover any illegality in our beings just by looking. Maybe it was my nervousness of seeing or meeting a white person on a foriegn land for the first time. We passed through immigration and somewhat the second leg of the journey was better. I was tense as I filled out customs documentation (didn’t have a pen on me, I think and had to borrow).
Upon landing we heeded to immigration check. Immigration was rather easy though I was nervous. The tension that wasn’t there in India seemed to have started in me right after leaving the country. This constant tension of being in an uncertain place would hog me throughout the future.
In India, if you don’t have your luggage with you for all practical purposes one would think that you had lost it. May not be now-a-days at the airports, but in the early 90s it wasn’t the same. So getting our SIX suitcases was a relief. A porter helped us with getting through customs. Always wanting to keep the helpers happy, I doled him out a 10 dollar tip.
There was a well suited person holding out a ‘Aragam’ placard. He was our taxi driver. He loaded our luggage w/ the porter onto the ultra-clean looking four seater vehicle that wasn’t a car. Later on I would realize it was a GMC truck. It had plenty of luggage space but all our six suitcases and the handbags wouldn’t fit into the cargo area. He didn’t know that we had a baby and we had to sit Vikas in the back seat and I took the front seat. He knew where he had to take us – to a hote in Farmington Hills. The name reminded me of a resort like place!
The ride to the hotel still in my memory! It was unusually quiet and seemed that the roadsides were rolling by with the absense of any sound at all. If you have ridden in India, you can’t have any silence. The blaring of horns, the cackle of loud speakers, the animals and the pedestrians, the hawkers with their overhead baskets – it would be an adventure just to get across to the foreigner. So this quiet ride with Vikas being quiet too has registered in my mind like nothing else maybe upon landing.