I was living in this illusion since I arrived in U.S. But today all the traces of my doubt vanquished away when I saw an old lady driving a luxurious car. What a big deal if an old lady drives a car? It may not be news for an American but for an Indian it is nothing less than a miracle. You still think it cannot be big news even for an Indian. But your eye balls will definitely roll up if I say that lady works as a sweeper in my office and she was driving “Honda Civic”. She is Mary Pauline and she is 65 years old. I greet her every time I find her sweeping floor or cleaning glass panes of my office door. She always reciprocates my greeting with a more generous giggling smile showing her toothless jaw.
But when I saw her driving in full throttle, I remained stood there with my mouth wide open. She was enjoying her ride and as if teasing young boys, saying “Why should boys have all the fun? “. This was a famous punch line of an advertisement of an Indian scooty. The car she was driving cost nothing less than 15 lakhs in India. A sweeper thinks twice or thrice before boarding an auto rickshaw or even a cycle rickshaw there. Even high class ‘honest’ government babus dream about driving such a luxurious car in their life time. But in U.S, a simple unskilled worker is enjoying such a luxury which may be a dream for many highly skilled workers passed out of the most prestigious colleges of India. This is not a single incident which tells about the economic affluence of U.S and clearly shows the difference between a developed country and a developing country.
In last one year of my stay in U.S, I have visited eight states and never coughed due to smoke, dust or any other pollutants on road. I have never seen any waste material strewn anywhere except garbage bins. Interestingly even some of the garbage bins have more costly items than many small or medium Indian stores. Once I found a 42 ‘inch Panasonic color television with remote, user manual and a note saying “the television is in good condition” outside a garbage collector in Indiana State of U.S. I have also seen computer monitors, oven, furniture, beds, toy bikes and many more items lying outside the garbage collector. I have not fallen in blind love with U.S but these are glaring facts for my bare eyes and potent tonic to my sleeping intellect.
On one fine morning, I woke up early and went to the balcony of my one bedroom apartment to get morning fresh air. But apart from the fresh air I found a surprise, downstairs. I saw a well attired person coming out of his ford “focus”. He greeted me and delivered my “New York Times”. I kept on looking at him till he disappeared from my line of sight and till three words came out of my mouth “O My God”. And I remembered my old newspaper hawker in Delhi who always used to come in Kurta-Pyjama riding on his old Atlas Cycle having a long carrier behind to hold bundle of newspapers.
What I enjoy most in U.S is my evening tea with Marie biscuit which I prepare immediately after coming from the office. Once I was having my best time of the day in my balcony and was lost in my thoughts. Suddenly my eyes caught Carlos, my apartment plumber. Carlos in his Nike shoes and Reebok bag carrying golf accessories was getting into a Honda CR-V. I thought he was carrying this for someone but he drove the car himself and later he told me that golf was his favorite sport. Golf is a favorite sport of a plumber. How come this is possible? In India it can be a favorite sport for corporate honchos only because only they can afford to play it, rest can just see them playing and giving interviews on television.
There is one big air-conditioned public library nearby my house. Facilities available in the library can beat library of many top ranked universities of India. You can get life time free membership of the library and avail all the facilities present there. Though I use my membership card to borrow DVD of movies only, but I wonder about our poor kids who could not get even mere stationeries and books to learn. And here I find very few people interested in using these facilities. What an irony!
These incidents have assured me that even a meager earning employee can have all the reasonable luxury of modern time and a respectable decent life in U.S. Their level of basic needs of life namely bread (Roti), cloth (Kapda) and house (Makaan) is much higher than that in India. They have not only all the comforts of a modern life, they have social acceptance also. Or in better words there is no general discrimination based on one’s profession. Even a senior director says “Hi” to a simple mechanic of the organization and asks about his weekend plans. Such things in India are as rare as experiencing snowfall in Jaisalmer. So I got the feeling that Lord Ram was born in U.S, very recently not more than two or three hundred years back. And he established “Ram Rajya” here where even persons like Sabri and Kewat belonging to the weakest section of the society can have brown bread with cheese and cream (Roti), Levis jeans with Nike t-shirt (Kapda) and air conditioner with refrigerator in the house (Makaan) and that too with a smile. You can easily spot Hanuman, Angad and their friends in honest and strong police officers of U.S, committed to protect the “Ram Rajya”. Engineers like Nal and Neel are busy in making Golden Gate bridges and Hoover dams. Seers like Balmiki and Vashisth can be found imparting knowledge in the gurukuls of Stanford and Cambridge. It is difficult to feel the presence of Sita here. But I guess Tulsidas wrote “Ram CharitrManas” somewhere on the bank of Michigan Lake instead of Chitrkoot near Ayodhya. Only strange thing is in spite of “Ram Rajya” in their country, people of U.S say “Hello” in place of “Jai Ram Ji Ki”.
This article has been written by Kunal Thakur.