Welcome to all my new friends- thank you for your encouragement, there’s certainly an added excitement to writing the post tonight!
I was away for the weekend, hence no new posts. I spent Friday in New York City, and the remaining weekend in New Jersey with my cousin and her family.
I had a job interview in New York City. That place is thriving with such life and activity. A little too much of both if you ask me. I was supposed to meet with a friend after work at Grand Central station so we could go catch up with another friend in another part of the city. While I was standing in the main concourse waiting for him, my gaze was drawn away form the ceiling above to the sea of people around me- hordes of people, all in a hurry, scurrying off to who knows where, running into each other, and not even taking a minute to stop and say sorry! It made me think “I’m not one of these people”. No offense to those who are, but I’m a small town gal. I like visiting big cities, not living there.
I left my car at a train station in New Jersey. I’m not cut out to drive around Manhattan. On my train ride into the City, a family was sitting next to me. From their conversation I could tell that they weren’t from the area. Their daughter had just moved there and mom, dad and li’l sis were visiting her. When it was time to get off the train, the dad politely let me pass. I couldn’t help overhear her telling him “dad, your manners are rude for the City”. I immediately turned around and said to them with a big smile, “don’t worry, I’m not from here. I’m from Buffalo and I actually like that!”. We all laughed and exchanged good byes.
There were so many instances when I kept telling people I was from Buffalo- like someone asked me for directions, and I told them I wasn’t from there, I was from Buffalo. It wasn’t required for me to say where I was from but I am such a proud Buffalonian. The truth, I guess, is that now more than ever, I am realizing how much I love Buffalo. Like I said in the beginning, I was in New York for a job interview. Just the possibility that I might have to live there is making me cling to Buffalo with every fiber of my being. I don’t want to let go. I wish I could burrow a hole and never get out of it!
But I am sure a lot of you are wondering why Buffalo? I wasn’t born here. How did I end up here and why do I find it so hard to leave? So I want to do a little flashback tonight. I was born and raised in India, in a small town that doesn’t figure on world map. Suffice to say it is right in the middle of the country, equal distance from Mumbai and New Delhi. I consider myself very fortunate to have received the privileges I did growing up. My grandfather was almost like a celebrity- most people knew him and held him in high regard. He passed away a year before I left India. My parents, both highly educated professionals, are active members of the community, always involved in social work and helping others. I have one younger sister who is among my best friends. Although male child was preferred back in the days when I was growing up, my parents never treated my sister and me differently. They lavished us with all imaginable comforts. We were one of the few children to have attendants waiting on us from the time we got back from school until our parents got back from work. We could want for nothing, anything we asked for we were given. That does not mean we were spoiled. My parents also instilled good values in us. We had appreciation for everything we had, and right down from my grandfather to my parents, philanthropy ran deep in my family.
I was always a good kid. At school I always got the highest grades, I was active in extra curricular activities and was every teacher’s pet. At home, I respected my parents and was always responsible. My parents, although strict, let me have the freedom to have my own opinions and beliefs and become my own person. Nothing was imposed on me, except some moral values that now I am thankful for. When a lot of girls would falter and end up in trouble, I was steering very clear of it. But my parents could only direct my moral compass, not the rest of the country’s. As I started growing up and came in contact with more and more of outside world, I started realizing how differently it saw me because I was a girl. I remember distinctly, I was 13 years old the first time I experienced fear for my safety and well being. It’s the kind of primal fear that makes you fight or flee, I fled; it’s the kind of fear that I have never come across since I moved here. Years later, my sister had acid attack threats. You get the picture I’m sure. Like I said before, I was very fortunate to have got privileges that many others cannot get. My father had an escort for my sister and me, and until we lived with him, we were secure. But for how long can one live with their parents? I wasn’t going to move out of my parents’ haven into that of a husband just because being a single girl, living alone wasn’t safe. Nor was I going to surround myself with a swarm cacophonous girls busy with idle chatter because there is safety in numbers. I went to college and walking the street alone was considered bold! But I did it.
Without going into details, I have a very different picture of India in my mind. It has been 9 years since I left, and maybe things have changed in these 9 years. But the biggest news on TV when I visited in December last year was about a girl who took Uber after a long day at work and got raped by the driver. I took Via in NYC without thinking twice! There have been talks about banning beef in India- I love steaks and hamburgers! I was never told to follow any religion or tradition or custom. I was taught to be good and kind and respectful, and to lead an honorable life. I don’t know how can I possibly go back and find a life for myself there again.
That still doesn’t explain why Buffalo. That bit is simple really. I like the simplicity of a quiet life. That’s how I grew up. I don’t want to be one among millions fighting for limited resources- that is not how I was raised. I want a safe, quiet life and I had it in Buffalo. I have always lived life on my terms, it’s hard to accept that someone else is calling the shots now.