LOOKING BACK . . .

LOOKING BACK . . .

The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me.  I remember we’d all pile into the car – I forget what kind it was – and drive and drive.  I’m not sure where we’d go, but I think there were some trees there.  The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played.  I remember a bigger, older guy we called “Dad.”  We’d eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home.  I guess some things never leave you. 

                                                     - Saturday Night Live “Deep Thoughts”

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There was a time in my 20’s; that was America in the 1990s.

When my sole goal was to fit in, to not be any different than I already was, in my demeanor and looks.  To speak in unaccented English, that was the Queen’s English, learned in convent schools in New Delhi but that was nevertheless, different than the colloquial English, the slang of, “buddy, this…” or “honey, that…” which I encountered in conversations at the post office or my local Thrifty Payless drug store.

From Anoop Judge, I became Ann Judge because it was easier to pronounce.  I didn’t want to lose the opportunity of making a real friend in the blond, self-assured woman who was my preschooler's best friend’s mom because she found herself stumbling over the unfamiliarity of my name.

But, as I successfully assimilated, as every woman of my acquaintance became ‘babe’, and every man became ‘dude’ I realized that America was changing too . . . and so was the India I’d left behind.

In the twenty years hence, America has matured.  It has become politically correct . . . it is no longer polite to ask someone, with morbid curiosity, “Where are you from?”  the moment a foreign accent is discerned in one’s opening remarks.   You may privately think it but in publicly calling Mexicans thieves and Muslims terrorists, Trump has violated a long-standing tradition of cultural America moving towards tolerance and respect.  Where it’s not only about YOUR freedom of speech, but making sure you don’t offend somebody with your freedom of speech.

And the land I came from has grown up too. No longer is it a country known for bedraggled snake charmers and ivory bounty hunters.  Instead, the tech bubble has spawned a generation of double digit billionaires who own sprawling homes in London, Mumbai and Hong Kong and, Bikram Yoga has brought a flurry of ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ exotic-travel seeking visitors to it's shores.

And as I proudly wear my given name again, Anoop Ahuja Judge, on my well-stamped passport, I reflect: what an opportunity I’ve been given, to reinvent my life, to live like a gypsy, here in a changing America and yet be transported to the New Delhi of my childhood in less than 16 hours of flying time. I’m a woman with a foot in both worlds, and I refuse to split.  I roll my bed, turn down my hair, slightly confused but. . .I don't care; I'm happy and I know it.

 

 

 

 

Write your chapter wisely in 2017. . .

Write your chapter wisely in 2017. . .

NEVER ANY END TO DELHI. . .

NEVER ANY END TO DELHI. . .