From royal weddings to royal killings, too many interesting things have been happening around me to focus on work. I have always been sardonic about flashy wedding ceremonies, wondering with cynicism how long it would be before these doe-eyed, love-infested couples start to swear, blame, fight, and be unfair to each other. So, while my colleague woke up at 4 am and watched the royal wedding with renewed interest, I slept soundly on my sofa bed in Missouri. Once I returned from Missouri, I had the exciting news of the royal killing awaiting me. Random thoughts crossed my mind as I digested and processed the news. There were serious issues, like, is Obama going to be re-elected as the President again? Not that I find his policies very pro-immigrantion, and I am apathetic toward politics and current happenings, unless they directly affect me. Then I thought of more serious issues, like, now that the villain is dead, will they let me carry lotions, moisturizers, and beauty products with me in planes? Since I moved to the US many years after 9/11, I have always seen high security at the airports, have been frisked for some serious feeling up by people of the same gender in the name of security. Trust me, the last thing you want is some woman touching you here and there in the name of security. And then I have had expensive makeup bottles stolen from hotels (which were complimentary anyway) being mercilessly thrown away. The bottles of water were gone, and so were the bottles of juice and iced tea. For years, it was a challenge to have a clean security check up, or carry contact lenses and their solutions. The TSA forced me to wear glasses and look less glamorous. My friend suggested I visit Washington DC with an appeal, “The motion for lotion”. To cut a long and nagging story short, will there be lesser security hassles at the airport now, since the villain is dead? Will I be eyed with less suspicion, because I am brown and more importantly, considered a potential immigrant, since my mom and dad weren’t smart enough to think ahead of time and give me birth here? Will someone willingly let me extend my visa once it expired, because I am now an acclaimed professor very worthy of producing good quality research in this country? Or, will things be the same as ever, if not worse? No makeup lotions, being frisked, employers not willing to sponsor my visa or let me work in peace without losing sleep over a green card? The reason I am ranting about strict immigration laws is because I have had to go through a lot of hassles in the past because of this, and this has no connection with my post anymore. Honestly, I would never greedily eye that green card or the citizenship people kill each other (or worse, marry each other) over. I have never wanted to be a green card hungry immigrant. When I moved to this country, I did so because I wanted a life of freedom, a life where I was free to study in the best educational institutions, and move and see places and not be restricted to a single country. Given a chance, I would gladly work in Europe, or any other place for the matter. I came here because I thought I could live a life of freedom, without the person from the other backward caste next door competing with me, and outshining me for that coveted place in my dream institution. I wanted to be in a place where my worth would be the value of my work, and not the function of my caste (or the backwardness of it), the clout my father has (which he has none), or the amount of butt licking of the political parties in power I could do. That is why I left India. But in moving here, I got myself into different kind of chains. In order to break free of the shackles that held me back in India, I became a prisoner of different kind of social, political, and visa-related norms. How I wish I was hired for the quality of my work, at any government or private organization, without being rejected because I was not a citizen. No, I will never want to be a US citizen. It’s nothing got to do with patriotism and stuff. I was born an Indian by chance, I could be born in, say, Israel, or Italy. But I grew up in India for decades, and no matter where I live now, I like to be called an Indian by default. It is the kind of programming I grew up with. I would be very confused if I had to introduce myself as an American.
Anyway, all my thoughts about moving to the US because I wanted to break free, and then chained in the vicious visa cycle here was meant for a different post altogether. Now that I have talked about it, I wonder how the death of the most wanted terrorist affect the political, social, and visa-related ongoing of the world. But till those radical changes happen (hopefully for the betterment), I will hope they will let me carry my makeup kit, bottles and lotions and all, and will not mercilessly chuck them in the trash cans every time I board a flight.
(If I have inadvertently hurt your sentiments by bringing up the visa or backward caste issue, stop being a sissy and live up to the reality, like everyone is).