Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My article in LITTLE INDIA

By Radhika Meganathan

The ancient gray and blue carpet covered the entire floor of the Indian air carrier we boarded in New York. Most of the passengers are harried couples with children, searching woodenly for their seats. One wailing baby crawls on the floor and wets himself. The stain spreads slowly on the carpet.

Impatient nudges prompt me to find and slump on my seat. The plane starts to vibrate, while I continue staring at the stain on the carpet. I could have flown Singapore Airlines, but picked this one because it was cheaper. After all, I will not be paid in dollars in India.

I still am not able to believe it. I have spent my whole life dreaming about living in America. And now, after I made the impossible leap, I am leaving. In fact, I have left... we are now in mid-air.
A sigh escapes me. I first came to the United States in 2004 on an international fellowship. It had hit me in the arrival lounge at Newark International Airport - introverted middle-class Indian women do not get all-expense paid trips and fellowships. But here I was, in the land of my dreams.

I was in the US only for a month at the time. But it changed me forever. No pressures. No guilt. No judgment. And so much beauty. Such delights motivated me to return the following year on an internship, working for the same magazine that had awarded me the fellowship.

Lost in thought, I am brought back to reality by a slight touch on my forearm. When I notice my next-seat companion, I groan silently. Trust the fates to seat me beside a leering Indian businessman. This one looks slightly older than my father.

"Hi, I own a motel in Kansas," he says, licking his lips. "Ever been in a motel?"

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