What not to say to your Friends living abroad

What not to say to your Friends living abroad

So I’ve been living in the States for quite a while now (almost five years) and I keep getting these comments like – “Wow, your life is set”, “Wow, you are living in a developed country”, “Wow you are bloody rich” and least but not the last, “Wow can you get me an iPhone?” To me, it’s not just humiliating but also so sad, because they do not realize what it takes to live here. So here’s what it is to live here, comment by comment:

  1. “Wow! Your life is set!”
    Excuse me! But though we live here, and I have my kid here, it’s not the same as living in India, with parents and in-laws close by. My kid will never know what it is to sit with ammamma and thathaya and eat goru muddalu. Or sit with his nannamma and thathaya and watch TV. Also, I don’t have the opportunity to look after my aging parents or in-laws.
  2. “Wow, you are living in such an amazing country!”
    Yep, The United States of America is pretty amazing, but we live in Kansas. The nearest biggest city is about an 8-hour drive. Holidays are mostly spent at home trying to sleep because vacations cost about at least $600 per head just for airfare. So instead most of us make ourselves happy by visiting zoos and riverside places that are 2 hours away. Everything is so expensive. A plate of biriyani costs about $14 which is about Rs. 910 approximately. And the portions are so small, it’s hardly filling with just biriyani, so you have to order an appetizer which cost another $12.
  3. “Wow, you are living in one of the most developed countries in the world!”
    Yep, that I do and there is always a BUT. What’s the point of living in one the developed countries in the world when you are met with racism and hatred for your skin color? What’s the point of living in one of the developed countries in the world if you are killed because of where you are from? What’s the point of living in one of the developed countries if your kids are bullied for being brown? And what’s the point of living in one of the developed countries if you cannot work because of your visa status?
  4. “Wow, you can save so much.”
    Oh I hate this when people say it, and also feel so, so, so sad. Let me break down the cost of living here in Kansas on a one-person salary:
    Salary = $75,000 PA (this is, of course, an experienced person’s salary)
    Per Month Salary = 6,250
    After cuts You are left with = 4,200
    Rent = $1,200 (for a 2-bedroom)
    Internet+Phones = $200 (Those damn iPhones aren’t cheap)
    Electricity = $150
    Groceries = $700
    Eating out = $100 (which will be just enough to eat twice)
    Baby supplies = $100 (This is just the diapers and wipes)
    Insurances = $300 (Car, renters and etc)
    Gas = $110
    Water and trash = $100
    Car loan = $400
    I have not taken into account hospital bills, sending home money, student loans, credit card debt, clothes, furniture, underwear (Well a bra costs $15 and that’s like a basic one), but if all that is added up it comes to the negative numbers. Also, a trip to the doctor will cost you at least $500 (after insurance) and then sometimes you have to send home extra money, friends are visiting, you have parties at home, you have to support a baby and plan for their future and Blah BLAH BLAH!!!
  5. “Wow, you are so RICH!”
    Again, check the calculations above.
  6. “Wow, it’s a dream come true!”
    Frankly, it’s not. You think about living in America is something from F.R.I.E.N.D.S or How I Met Your Mother. That’s true if you are born American. If not, you are to become the domestic goddess. There is nothing wrong with living the domestic life, my mom dedicated her life to the well-being of the home, but some souls (hint mine) do not like a domestic one and want to be free. So if your dream is to live at home, clean the dishes, dry them, do the laundry, dry them and fold them, vacuum the house, wash the tub, clean the bathrooms, make sure nothing is dropped on the carpet, making sure the towels and the sheets are washed, yep then living in the US is a dream come true.
  7. “Wow, your kids will speak perfect English!”
    But, they will never speak perfect Telugu, or perfect Hindi, or whichever language is your mother-tongue. You would say, you can teach them at home. That is absolutely true, but between school and extra-curricular activities, they barely get time to relax.
  8. “Wow, you are coming to India, can you get me an iPhone?”
    NO, ABSOLUTELY NOT! I would carry it for someone who is really close to me, but not for someone who messages me on FB messenger seven years since they actually talked to me. I’m not paying $1,500 for a flight ticket to get you an iPhone.
  9. “Wow, pray for me to come live there.”
    No, I would NOT impose that on you. I do not want your children to grow up with their grandparents. I do not want you to become a domestic woman. I do not want you to not have a career. I do not want you to feel lonely. I do not want you to become depressed. I do not want you to be in debt.
  10. “Wow, you are barely at home, you go to so many parties!”
    Yep, I go to other peoples homes to eat because sometimes I miss mom so much and there is no one else to cook for me, I depend on my friends. My friend Shilpa has been like an older sister to me. She hovers over me and takes care of me. She worries about me more than I worry about myself. And sometimes it’s good to have someone worry about you. I miss Pooh because she would do that to me, I’m really glad I have Shilpa here or I think I would have been lost. And also her hot Konkan dal helps me a lot. Here friends are family, without them we are lost and would be so lonely, so yeah I go out as much as possible.
  11. “Wow, you got me this, why couldn’t you get me that?”
    I get you something, I shop for you, I actually spend time and money to buy something for you; I do this because I love you and I deeply care for you. I’m sorry it’s not what you like and not what you expected, but with the limited budget, I have that is what I can afford.

Despite all this, I love living here. I would miss living here because it’s been my home for the past few years. That said, I still miss MY home, living with my parents, hanging out with my friends, going out for pani puri and of course having a career. Each has its own set of Pros and Cons, but I’ve learned to see the positive side of living here, and who doesn’t love 42 ounces of Coca-Cola for a dollar!

End of Rant


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