Category: Uncategorized

30 and Learning has moved!!

Not too long ago, 30 and Learning blog celebrated its first anniversary. To keep the forward momentum and the process of learning going, 30 and Learning now has its own address on the web:

https://30andlearning.com/

Along with a YouTube vlog!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGM8ZdwkkUaiDRYZU74qkpw

I was hoping that this site will automatically get mapped to the new address but looks like that didn’t happen. I am hoping that everyone who has supported me this past year will continue to support me in this new endeavor as well.

Thank you for all the love and giving me the courage to take these steps forward!

Love,

P

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Foreigner: the Urban Legend of a Legal Immigrant

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Below are the links to order a copy of my memoir, Foreigner. The book deals in detail with my experience of the legal immigration system in the US and what I believe to be the myth of a legal immigrant. So few Americans know what their country is doing to people who are trying to immigrate legally. People only think about immigrants as those crossing borders illegally or coming here for asylum. That is only a part of the truth. I hope my book will help people see the other side and demand justice.

Paperback version 

Ebook

I wasn’t very pleased with the Ebook layout so I’d recommend the paperback. But my copies haven’t arrived yet so I can’t say whether they turned out as I expected!

Thank you for your support!

P

Let’s make America great again? Sure!

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Everyday, for over eight months now, I have been amazed by the ignorance that has made its way to the core of America. Many people know what happened to me, many of them feel bad for me, some even agree it is injustice, but just exactly what it is no one cares to know. No one wants to hear me out, they just shower me with sympathy. I don’t want sympathy that is rooted in ignorance, I want your opinion that comes from knowing the whole, entire truth about something. No wonder you have politicians you cannot trust because you have never demanded the whole truth.

Immigration, as media and politicians have told you over and over, is a problem. It is all about people crossing borders illegally or seeking asylum. But that is a very small part of the picture. Immigration is also about people like me who were welcomed here for the money they were going to flush into American universities, and then were mistreated and forced into servitude. American people are not the real victims of immigration, the immigrants are- people like me who want to do the right thing but have no means to do so. I have no rights or freedom in this country although I have lived here, legally and honorably, for 9 years now.

Why doesn’t anyone want to know this side of the issue? Why doesn’t anyone want to ask questions? Why isn’t anyone curious if, in fact, the immigration system has reduced me, and the likes of me, into economic slaves to corporations who control my very existence? I was nearly ruined by one such corporation and the laws gave me no protection. This is your country and those are my claims- why doesn’t anyone want to have this discussion with me?

To those who say they want to make America great again, here is my response-
If you want to make America great again, ask questions, know the whole truth for yourselves and not just blindly follow what you have been told. Learn to treat people the right way, irrespective of the country they are born in. Acknowledge the discrimination that is built into your very laws and stand for justice. Foreigners have just as much right to be free as do Americans. You want to send us all back “humanely”, sure, I will sign up. But this is what it would mean to send me back humanely:
• Return the money that I have fed into your Social Security and Medicare programs because I can never avail to their benefits. I was abruptly let go from my job, and the nature of this termination is as yet questionable, but I still did not get unemployment benefits. Stop stealing my money!
• Relocate my household to my home country or pay me the original price for all of my belongings. I was allowed to settle down here. It is not my fault that I acquired material things. And just because you don’t want me here anymore, I am not going to sell everything for pennies or donate it all because I cannot afford to move everything on my own. Show me some respect.
• Pay for me and my dependents to go back and make sure our transition is as seamless as it can be. Even when you rescue wild animals you take great care in reintroducing them to their habitat. I am not a wild animal- I am a human being, a civilized one! I cannot just leave one day and learn to live in a place I haven’t lived in for many long years.

If you can do that, I will leave your country to you. But know that I never treated this like ‘your’ country. I treated it like mine, and I loved it. If you want to be bigoted then be so openly. Don’t hide behind your ignorance. Everytime you show hollow pity for someone like me who is on the brink of deportation for no apparent reason, you are embracing ignorance and you are becoming part of the problem.

Want to know my side of the truth? Read my memoir Foreigner- the Urban Legend of a Legal Immigrant, coming soon on Amazon.com. Ebook available on Kindle.

 

P

While I was away…

It has been really long break. Although I have been quiet, I did not give up writing. I was writing elsewhere, that’s all!

I had been working on the manuscript of a memoir. All of you are familiar with my struggles with immigration that had been going on for last several months. I have decided to finally stop fighting and return to India. But I don’t want all of my struggles to have been in vain. I may have lost this battle but I am not yet defeated. My memoir, called Foreigner, details the many injustices of the US immigration system that cost me everything that I had earned through honest hard work. I hope that as you have supported me on this blog, you will support me in voicing my experiences through this book as well.

I don’t want anyone else to have to go through what I did. If US does not want immigrants, it’s time it came out and made that known openly instead of letting unsuspecting people like me come here, stay here, call this place home for 9 years, and then kicking us out for no apparent reason. It’s time that this hypocrisy ends. May be US needs a vote too- in or out- of the world economy? Like Brexit, they too must openly admit to their dislike for immigrants and face its consequences, positive or negative. But no more exploitation, please!

This book is not just my attempt to highlight the atrocities of US immigration, it is also my only hope to earn a way out of here. I have spent every last dollar on trying to stay here and fight the good fight. Now I have nothing left, not even enough to even buy my way out. I will forever be grateful for your support.

The book is currently under review but I will post a link here when it is available for purchase through Amazon and Kindle.

These past few months have not been easy but I continue to hold on to hope and wait for the light at the end of this dark, dark tunnel.

Love,

P

A New Beginning

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Like I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t want to go back to what I was. I want to make a difference. When I started writing this blog, I was just looking for a space for my thoughts. I was learning a lot of new things, about life and about myself. And as I was learning, I was logging it here, and sharing with others in the process. But now when I look at this blog, I want it to be more than just a sounding board for myself. I want to turn my lessons into meaningful advice that someone else can use. I don’t like to receive or offer unsolicited advice, I don’t, and that’s not what I want to do. But in periods of crisis, I’ve often found myself searching the Internet for things like “what is my purpose“, “how can I find strength“, “how to deal with depression“. I’ve read other people’s memoirs and found, not necessarily answers to my questions, but guidance on how to tackle those questions and find answers for myself. I think it’s my time to pay back.

Every blogger would probably agree that after a point you have to reinvent your blog. That is what I want to do now. I want this blog to be a source of strength, perhaps even inspiration, to others. As part of meeting that end, I have created a Facebook page for 30 and Learning. If you are on Facebook, I hope that you would share it with your network of friends, and for that I thank you in advance! Through my many problems ranging from unemployment to immigration to breakup to depression, I have gained significant expertise in how to deal with life’s many challenges and come out on top. I have also learned how to take better care of myself be it physical fitness or mental. And recently, I’ve learned that I care about the state of politics even if I am only an outsider here.

Going forward, I intend to do three kinds of posts- how to deal with emotional issues, how to look and feel better, and discussions on current affairs. I will strive to do one post per week on dealing with emotional issues since that has been my biggest lesson. I will also do a second post each week on either one of the other two topics. I hope this new direction will help me help others. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

Thanks!

P

Tomorrow Never Comes, Indeed!

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Another weekend, another Meetup, and another group of great people! We went to watch St. Patrick’s Day parade and then to an Irish hooley at a local microbrew. I didn’t spend 13 hours with the group this time, but I did form a special bond with one of the members. She and I are in a similar situation, the only difference being she is just starting the uphill climb whereas I think I am on the descent now. I shared my struggles with her and she was able to find comfort in knowing that it is possible to make it through this no matter how hopeless things may seem right now. She said, “I was meant to meet you today“, and it warmed my heart to realize that perhaps my struggles weren’t for nothing after all- they helped someone else take heart.

At the beginning of February I had said that I could feel spring in the air, I was my own Phil, the groundhog, and something reminded me of that this morning. So browsing through my Netflix list, when I saw the movie title The Groundhog Day, I just had to watch it. For those who haven’t watched the movie, here is the link to IMDB page. Bill Murray plays an egocentric, arrogant weatherman who has to go to Punxsutawney to report on the titular event. Through some inexplicable phenomenon, he is stuck reliving that day over and over. What’s worse is that he is fully aware that he is trapped in that day but no one else remembers a thing from the previous day, which was the same as today, and will be the same tomorrow. Initially, he goes about being his old grumpy self each day, running into the same people, having the same conversations. Soon he realizes that his actions couldn’t possibly have any consequences since tomorrow will never come. So he starts exploiting the situation and having some fun with it. But fun gets old pretty quick. Desperate to break out of this cycle, he tries to kill himself several times. But no matter what he does, at 6 am, he is back in his bed, waking up to the same song and chat on the radio, and once again, it is February 2!

Over time, and partially in an attempt to woo his producer, something changes in him. He starts using his ‘power’ to do good things, to help people, to keep them safe, he even tries to prevent death. He becomes a good man. No longer are his days the same. He takes the time know other people, acquire new skills and do all the good he can in that one day. Because of his newfound kindness of heart, at last he is able to win over his producer and he is released from the time trap.

As I was watching the movie, it made me think, “what makes one day different from another?“. It’s not simply the date on the calendar. Often times, I wake up in the morning and feel saddened by the realization that I’m still here, it’s going to be another day just like all the days before it since the beginning of this year, another day of hoping that something will change, that I’ll find a way back home. I am stuck in my own time trap. But aren’t we all? What’s the point of living if there is nothing to aspire to? My aspiration right now is to be able to return to Buffalo. But instead of thinking of each day as being same as the one before it, I can try to make it different. So I go out, try new things, meet new people. I think of ways to get closer to my dream and act in that direction. In whatever I do, I remember to live today to its full potential. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I don’t even know if I will get a tomorrow. Today is all I’ve got and if I waste it with negativity and inaction, then I would have failed myself. So what does make one day different from another? It is what we do with it.

The only advantage Bill Murray had over the rest of us is that life wasn’t passing him by. He was no older the next day when he woke up. But for us who are living in the real world, each day we lose is one more day we can’t get back. We can’t go back in time to fix things, or do them over. So it is but obvious that we must be extra careful with the choices we make today. When we are going through crisis, it is easy to lose sight of today. We just want it to be tomorrow, and not just any tomorrow but the tomorrow we are yearning for. I am all for a fast forward button for life, but while the geniuses of the world figure that out, we must all face our todays, no matter how grim they might seem. So why just face them, why not make them worth something? That something doesn’t have to be extraordinary, even a small something like going for a long walk, but surely a something that is positive.

Something else I watched this weekend was the movie Becoming Jane, based on the life of Jane Austen. I, like every single girl in this world, grew up reading Jane Austen and fantasizing about a life filled with romance. The thing with novels, though, is that they end at a point where everything is perfect. But life doesn’t end there. If I were a character in Jane’s novels, my story would have ended when my former boyfriend asked me to marry him- I was young, successful, happy, and so completely in love- all elements of a perfect ending. But life went on, we broke up, in came my playboy, the rest you know. The point being, even if we could skip to our desired tomorrow, there is no way to make it last forever- now don’t tell me you want the geniuses of the world to make that happen next, that’s just plain greedy 😛.

Life will always be full of challenges, and there’ll always be times when we’ll want to skip over the bad part. But the bad parts are the true test of our character. It is not easy to make it through, but make it through we must. And if it is something we must do, we might as well give it our best. Life is simpler living one day at a time, so let’s stop worrying about tomorrow, or next month, or next year. Let’s seize today and make it better than yesterday!

P

 

The Most Important Lesson

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I’m back!

These past few weeks have been busy… I don’t know how it happened but one Saturday morning I stepped out on my patio, to soak in the rare, beautiful winter sunshine, and out of nowhere, the thought hit me, “I can feel spring in the air!” (Note: the picture above is from the same day, just not the same moment). There’s still snow on the ground, and I daresay even more on its way, soon, but I could feel a certain change in the air. I picked up my skates and hit the ice. I went to Dick’s and bought new workout clothes. I took Izzie out as you can see! I’m now taking ballet lessons, and practicing hot yoga once a week. I took out my PMBOK(R) guide and started studying. Yesterday, I took my exam and am now a certified Project Management Professional.

Interestingly though, I am not doing any of this merely to stay busy, or distract myself to fight off my earlier feelings of despair. I feel an indescribable surge of positivity around me and I want to use this energy to better myself. Even when I’m not doing anything, like today, I feel peace in my heart. It’s as if calmness has descended upon my world and I’m in perfect harmony with all that’s around me.

That does not mean I have given up, or altered, my hopes and aspirations, or my dreams for a certain future. I still hold all of them close to my heart but I no longer find myself attached to the desired outcome. For instance, I still love Buffalo, and I will keep trying to find a way back any chance I get. But I have learned to accept love without wanting anything in return. I’d rather spend my life acknowledging that love than trying in vain to fight it and move on. What matters is that I’m not going to give up my life trying to chase that love, just so I can have it. I will live my life to its full potential, I will seize every opportunity, but all of it while still keeping an eye on what I love. If I can make it back, it will be a dream come true. But even if not, and when I’m taking my final breath, I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I loved and I tried, and I had a great time doing so.

I don’t know if it was an epiphany or divine intervention, but this has been my most valuable lesson in life thus far. Too often we attach too much significance to the end, the result, “if I get this“, “if I have that“. Then when we realize we can’t get to that end or that result, we give up. We tell ourselves to forget about it, it wasn’t meant to be, to move on and find something else, almost like the ‘sour grapes’. But I am done doing that. I am done running away from love just because I can’t have it the way I want it. I am content in knowing that I found it in the first place. I will not let the disappointment of not having it dictate my life. Instead, I will let love guide my life.

I cannot talk about love and not mention my playboy. Yes, he came back once more (not in person, I was already in MI), and then he disappeared once more, abruptly, without saying anything. I’m sure everyone has concluded by now that he is a toxic presence in my life and I really need to let go; I would give me the same advice had I been on the other side of this conversation, it is the most rational thing there is to say. He probably is toxic. Probably, he is not a nice guy and I should stay away from him. Probably, he is a nice guy but it wasn’t meant to be, so I should forget about him. But does it really matter which is it? I’ve spent three long years trying to fight what I feel for him. I’ve exhausted all my logic and sensibities. I’ve imagined the worst possible things about him so I could loathe him. I have blocked him, stopped talking to him, ignored him. Yet, nothing has worked. But now that I don’t want to have him, I don’t care if I loved the wrong guy, but that I loved. I doubt I will ever forget him, but now I can smile when I think about him and not get perturbed trying to tell myself what or how I should feel.

To be clear, I must add that when I talk about love I don’t mean the cheesy kind they show in romcoms. I mean the kind of love where your heart goes, “I feel at home, I can stop looking now“. I felt at home in Buffalo, I haven’t experienced that before or since. I never felt life an outsider like I’ve felt most of my life. I wanted to have a baby with my playboy, even if I had to raise it alone; I just wanted a part of him. I was the kind of person who didn’t like kids, or babies, and I had sworn I would never have any children. A dear friend and mentor once told me, “Wait till you meet the right person, Pat. I was exactly like you until I met my husband“. Well, I don’t want anything anymore. I am happy knowing what ‘home’ could have looked like, and that there’s still a lot of life left- life that I am going to spend living, not chasing; rejoicing not regretting; trying not giving up.

In closing, after many upsets and some happy coincidences, I’ve learned that the only way to be truly happy, to be content, to be at peace, is to detach oneself from the outcome and enjoy the process. I guess I could have got that out of a self help book or some online resource. But wisdom and life lessons cannot be handed down, one must acquire them the hard way!!

P

 

 

A Dreamer’s Tale

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Another long silence… I went through a number of emotions during this time, as was expected! First I thought this was the end of everything, that I must reevaluate my whole life. After days of inner struggle, I finally decided to heed my gut, and my gut tells me that this isn’t the end. It’s simply a detour, a means to the end, the same end as the one I was headed towards. I just need to keep my dreams close and hold on to faith.

Life is a roller coaster they say. Mine seems like the scariest one at Six Flags, and I’m slowly inching towards the treacherous top. Maybe I’ll hang there precariously for some more time. But then the fun will begin, and it will be worth it, because the higher the climb, the greater the thrill!

I have summarized the transition of my emotions in a poem:

Dreams? Yes, I remember those things,
I used to have some of my own too.
Delicate things I carefully nurtured,
They’re gone now, nothing I can do.

Some died as I helplessly watched,
Others still, I buried alive;
Some wounded ones I’m nursing now,
Hoping at least they will survive.

I’m in the passenger seat of my own life,
It’s steering itself, to I don’t know where.
I dare not dream any new dreams now,
Not until we’ve reached there.

I’m sure it will be a beautiful place,
I’m sure it will inspire new dreams.
But the ones I buried haven’t died yet,
How will I drown out their stifled screams?

 

Maybe I will dig them out,
If they die still it won’t be at my hands.
I will give them the freedom to live their life,
At least, I will give them a chance.

And as they rise, they bring hope along,
They breathe new life into the wounded ones.
Together they’re happy to be alive,
And follow life to where it beckons.

I mourn the loss of the ones that died,
But I’m going to fight to save the rest.
Ahead lies a struggle between faith and reason,
Let’s see who will win that test.

Reason is an old friend of mine,
But some things in life cannot be explained.
I’m a dreamer first, will alway be-
For in darkest nights, dreams have remained.

So I gather my dreams and enjoy the ride,
And hope that the road that lies ahead-
Is leading to a place where my dreams will come true-
Instead of driving, I’m simply being led.

P

Running on Empty…

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That was at 8 this morning… Izzie and Milo in the back seat of my car, all confused and scared, looking out the window trying to understand what was going on.

I felt much the same on my drive to Kalamazoo. I cried as I was loading up my car this morning, cried as I told Izzie and Milo to take one last good look at what once used to be home (not that they understood, but I think I was really talking to myself as I addressed them), cried as I drove off and cried for a good portion of the rest of the day. I felt the worst kind of pain inside, like my heart had been ripped from my chest, and no painkiller could numb it. I yelled out, “God, do you really exist? If yes then how could you be so cruel! I was happy once, I’m sure I’ll find happiness again but why do I have to lose what I already had and look for it all over again?”. I reckon this is an atheist’s version of a prayer!

Throughout the drive this song kept popping up in my head.

“Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels,

Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields… I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on

I’m running on empty”

I have lost hope and drive I once had- I’m running on empty– simply going with the flow without offering any resistance. Perhaps the only hope I have now is to find hope again, to rediscover the desire to get up and seize the day, not passively go through the motions, and finally to be able to see the ‘bright side’ in all this.

By the time I reached here, I realized that much of my earlier despair had already left me. There is something invigorating about new things. Finally moving into my new apartment, I suddenly started enjoying the adventure. When I finalized this place during a previous trip I wasn’t thrilled about it. Once I got back to Buffalo, I kept thinking how much I loved my place there and how this wasn’t good enough. As a matter of fact, I’m still holding on to the apartment in Buffalo. But when I saw this place again today, with the keys in my hand, I really liked it. While I was in Buffalo, I kept looking for excuses to justify my nonchalant attitude towards this place- It’s ok, too small… My furniture won’t fit!- I said. But as I’m looking at it now I am mentally placing my furniture and it fits just fine!

Tomorrow I want to go out and explore the city- local stores and such. I am sure I will like that too. Day after, I start work. I am a workaholic. Being unemployed was the worst thing to have ever happened to me, not just for reasons pertaining to immigration and finances, but because being out of work left a gaping hole in my life. I felt I had no purpose. I know it’s a case of misplaced priorities and identity, but I identified myself as my job status, or at times my immigration status. This break has taught me to be at peace with myself for what I am, not what I have. With this knowledge, I’m looking forward to going back to work, and this time, striving for a better balance.

So all said and done, I think I’m beginning to see the light at the end of this tunnel. All this while, hope was dwindling, and by the time the big day arrived I had none left at all. But somewhere along the way I have refueled. I still feel cheated  and robbed of the happiness that I had. I am not happy today, but I’m no longer sad either. I’ve long tossed the idea of ‘everything happens for a reason’. What’s happened has happened, I will make the most of my new circumstances. I might end up in a good place, and people will call it THE reason. I won’t. Even if this new life makes me successful beyond my wildest imagination, I’ll still maintain that it shouldn’t have happened the way it did. I am not going to deny myself the grief for my loss in the name of optimism. Just as I’m not going to let grief stand in the way of me living life to its pull potential.

2016 is all about new beginnings for me, let’s hope for the best!!

Happy New Year 🎉

P