an early morning conversation Jaisalmer, India 12/29/13

I woke up early and came downstairs to write. I found myself in a conversation.

He wants to come to the US and live. He has a son 4 years old and a daughter 2 years old. His family passport is ready and approved for him to come to the US. My first thought with that is, it can not be that easy to get that approved by the US State Department. There must be extenuating circumstances. He wants to be a servant in someone’s house or work in a restaurant. But why? I want to ask. It is within these nuanced conversations where I am really interested in getting more details that my extremely limited Hindi fails me the most.

I want to convey, and do say, but this is definitely lost in translation. Some of the things you think it will be like, it will. At least what I think you think it will be like. But some of the things you think it will be like, it won’t. We do not have the tight knit families you do here. He wants to come and work for my entire family. He asks if I have a sister and says he will work for her too. Yes, my sister would love it, honestly love that. Right there he just doesn’t get how different the US is. We do not live close together in these tight knit groups. It would be a drive to have someone work for both us, and they would have to have their own space. Here it is not as important. In the US we do not have people on top of people in a gregarious, boisterous, sometimes even “I could use my own space” lifestyle. Even the most religious people I know in the US do not have the superstitions and religions infused throughout their lives as seems to be the case in all the Indian people I have met. Americans have no idea what true tolerance is. I had no idea what true tolerance within a population would be. I thought we had it for the most part. But in our country where we value individualism and differences, we are so busy touting and lauding our own unique strengths that we are not very good at appreciating and valuing others with their own unique strengths and differences. I want to tell him how much I think he will miss these things. I am not saying one way or country is better. The opportunities are better overall in the US, but there are other things that have value that are better here. You will miss these things, I tell him, but know he doesn’t understand. He is naive about the US, something we have been confronted with again and again. Then again, the US is a great country to be a citizen of. There are some things we get just right. I tell Sean that he has “the luck of birth.” Someone on this trip actually said that to Sean just out of the blue.

He thinks he will work for 10 months in the US and then come home for 2 months, similar to what the men in Dubai are doing, or maybe bring his entire family over to the US. My heart is captured up in this. I hope he finds a way for himself and his children.

I wish the world would equalize and people did not have to dream of a life so far away from their family and home in order to have a better life for their family. LOL, I hope one day we have a world where Jean Luc Picard rules, where the world is truly egalitarian, and there are equal opportunities for all.

That is my New Year’s wish for planet Earth.