The Immigrant Vacuum


Something stirred in me when I saw this image posted on Facebook. The sculpture is so powerful, that it depicts exactly how a lot of us feel.

Frances Bruno Catalano

In India


In the US as a student


In Canada

(double and new immigrant)

Wake up to noises of traffic, TV, fruit and vegetable vendors – curse them Wake up to an alarm clock and get set go! Wake up sometime in the morning
Food all ready and laid-out – complain and eat. Make food or go hungry or eat at some place (and think about the times you complained back home) Cook breakfast, lunch and dinner – all at once. Phew!
Get stuck in traffic – complain, curse, reach work Walk or take the public transport – Terrible in LA! Take public transport whenever – excellent, but not as great as Bombay.
If you know your job and are straightforward – get stuck in nepotism, get stuck in politics, get stuck in not being promoted, be depressed and look for change

If you don’t know your job, you will survive and be happy.

Be given more responsibility, feel conscious because of accent or race, feel conscious because your history is slightly different, be careful about WHAT you say sometimes, because it might come and bite you later. If you are good – be given more responsibility, be encouraged and love your work! Watch out for some odd politicking sometimes. There are several accents, so everything is cool! Feel accepted.
Keep meeting people who say and promise a lot of things and won’t deliver People who promise and deliver, People who stick to time – more often than not. People who promise and deliver, people who stick to time.
Be judged constantly for not being an engineer/MBA or some “science and tech field) (if you aren’t one), be judged for being unmarried, or for not having money, or for not being settled Everyone’s pretty much in the same state. But since you are Indian / desi – you worry about getting married, look for ‘the right one’ and fail several times. Loneliness gets unbearable Everyone’s in the same boat. No time for judgment.
Friends to hang out with – but dwindling as they move away for their careers / education etc. Friendships take time, and when you do form them, they become families. It’s rosy. Friends?? Friends??????


(Be okay with phone calls – they are all spread out!)

If you are a woman – protect yourself constantly, be alert ALL the time! If you are a woman, it’s cool! If you are a woman – J

Something of me is lost in constant comparisons. Sometimes I long for the Gulmohar trees outside my house and also the times when I leaned against a random car in the lane and chatted with my friends. They aren’t there anymore. I remember the walks to the vegetable market with my mom and our long chats. I remember my undergraduate days with great teachers! I remember hanging out and acting in plays with my MA teachers. I remember Marathi, Gujarati, Tamil and Malayali food joints! I miss FILTER COFFEE – the best coffee in the world! Mind never stops thinking about what is not there.

Now I realize what Osho said once, when you are here, be here! And that’s really tough for us, that’s why the break in the sculpture. But as soon as your mind accepts the world as one, everything solidifies. It’s all the same; it’s all in the mind!

Desiness personified!