Conversations in the USA and discovering some freedom
I came here in USA sometime back. 1 year passed. You may be interested in the previous posts too.
This post is about what I experienced in the USA through interactions of people. I have met people from many different places here. And life is dynamic. I believe this is more so because of the state of studies that I am in where I have had some full time experience in India and then came back.
There is a sense of freedom. I heard this from a young mother. She said that kids are free when they feel secure with the person they are with. The kids are otherwise very well behaved in front of everyone else. But, as they be with their mother alone. Then the hell breaks lose. This is said to be due to their sense of freedom. This is one thing that I , may be like many, feel here.
The best time of life is when one graduates and gets a job. Here, the most luckiest person is formed, who earns, learns life and enjoys freedom to do what they wish. This has happened to me twice. And I am waiting for a third one. However, even before that I felt the sense of freedom. This is somewhat odd. The way I feel looking at the leaf in the breeze, in rain, and feel timeless. That moment is priceless. That is made possible by this new found liberty. I am surprised and wondered how it can happen, when I am in a university studying for another degree.
My best guess is that this can be the result of knowing that there is an end to the program, not too soon. I earn part time, and live on what I earn. And also I do not have anyone to convince around. I can wear what I like and behave the way I am. I am answerable to myself, my studies and health are my responsibilities. There is no one to judge. And the better portion of it is that even at the part time work even though I am subservient in my student employment, I have the freedom to quit any time, and find some other similar job. And keep pursuing my academic interests. Converting time into money is made possible and made available to students in the USA. Even though I am a student and the work can be loaded on me, I am treated at par with any employee. I am treated equal, irrespective of my social status of being a student. Irrespective of my earning potential. And the demeanor does not change with my race or age or color or even the accent. This is great. I am not judged. And then I am free.
I am trying to figure out why I feel free. And what freedom means.
At the same time. Though I stay with folks from my native state, speak the same language and sometimes cook and eat the traditional dishes. They , I feel make their conduct not too different from what they were. In fact, many times I have felt that people from my place are extremely helpful and hold to their own mannerisms. This magically changes when they speak to someone who is not from my place. Strange people exist. This is especially true when the person at the other end is a fresh student , without any prior experience in industry from India. They have started their real freedom by being free with me!
This led me to answer the question, when do people grow up? I realized that this new belief regarding age came up. Age is in mind. Age is reflected in how one takes care of another person, people around us. This includes how we handle ourselves with positive impacts on people with us. This include how we care about others. This includes how one’s self is effecting the others by the least.
The freedom in the USA allows anyone to talk to anyone. This is directly related to the other person’s body language. And in general , I feel it is easy for people to start conversation in the USA because there is no discrimination. This is in contrast with people and conversations in India, where, in Tamil Nadu you hear being referred to as “Antha Payyan” (அந்த பய்யந்) in dialogues of elderly, “Sir” because of office staff and beggars, “da / de” (டா/டே)”by friends and people of similar age, and by name when an acquaintance girl addresses you in office, “Uncle” by small children, “Anna (brother)”(அன்னா) by youngsters. I was not too older than 26 when I had the completed the collection of these titles.
And there was this personal joke, where , unlike the old system of giving the title of “Sir” , reserved for by the monarchy of some small country near the arctic, we as individuals rose to that level of royal heights to call everyone by “Sir/Madam”. In fact, in Chennai, I was advised to call the bus conductors as “Sir/Madam” to show respect. This has its own benefits. By the way , who does not like praise. That freedom from these tags and labels is broken when I enter the circle of natives (people from my place) in the USA. Again, I wonder why even younger people call me “Eda” in the USA, but never in India. But outside that, in the USA, I am treated as equal. At maximum the way people address diverge into “Dude” and in the boyish craziness “Hey Man!” no more than that. This was an interesting development. Thanks to my practice of calling people with the postfix “ji” to show respect. This is a versatile discovery from Hindi language. Where anything with “ji” is with respect. This wonderful because it works with names, can be added easily to any Indian name and applies equally well to any gender and any age. But, I had to stick with the “Sir” for a few old bosses. They may not respond to name +”ji” extension in a place , which is not mainly Hindi speaking. And this occasionally breaks out and comes to the tongue in the name +”Sir” form or even better just plainly reverent “Sir” sometimes in the USA. It is unfortunate and hard to throw that away.
As conversations are made simpler with a “Hi/Hey/Hello” instead of a formal way to grab another person’s attention and kick start any conversation – official or casual. It frees the mind to focus on the content than the intricacies of level of honor/respect in the words used. For this is a rule of emphasis in German , Telugu, Hindi and Tamil and many other languages.
Explanation of the titles, of respect, used in India to an American (USA) colleague, made me re-think what exactly each of these stood for. And why I used it ! And so , here is the blog post ,so that, may be one day; when I forget these usages, I can refer to this back then.