| This is the 35th story of Our Life Logs |
I loved my hometown in India, and I never thought I’d leave it. My family and friends were there, and it was what I was used to. I wanted to travel to other countries, but I always thought I’d come back home. It turned out that fate didn’t want me to stay in one place, and soon enough I was moving to the United States.
I’m the middle child of three, and I was the odd one. My mother had to pay me a lot of attention because I was very shy and needed help getting comfortable around new people. Growing up I would hear, “oh, she’s so fragile,” and I was often compared to my siblings and seen in a negative light because I wasn’t social like them.
However, in fourth or fifth grade something snapped in me, and I rebelled against everyone’s ideas of me. I wanted to be more adventurous. I took swimming lessons, horseback riding and other daring activities. I started to become more independent. I was lucky to have parents that supported my interests. If I was keeping up with my studies, I could participate in any hobbies I wanted. Growing up in India not everybody was blessed with parents who let them focus on anything but their studies. With the help of my friends, I was able to balance school and my other hobbies.
By the time I reached high school, I had started working toward my dream of becoming an Air Force fighter pilot. There were very particular requirements to qualify to be a fighter pilot. I had plenty of knowledge that would have gotten me in, but unfortunately, I was missing some of the physical requirements. I didn’t meet the minimum height requirement which made me ineligible. I had no control over the physical qualifications that I didn’t meet, so I was very disappointed. It was clear that the dream I had held close to my heart for so long was not going to be possible. It was discouraging to accept that I could never become a fighter pilot.
With the destruction of my dream to be a pilot, I was convinced that I’d never get to other countries like I’d hoped. Not being able to achieve my goal was a big turning point for me. I had to find new meaning in my life and figure out the next step. I also realized that you can’t plan everything in your life. Even if you plan it all out, something is guaranteed to change.
I decided to go to college and get my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. I did well in my classes, but worried about my future on this career path. At the time, there weren’t many positions available in the field. I was unable to find a suitable job relevant to my major after graduation, so I decided to work in software instead. I had no formal education in it, but I learned quick enough to thrive in the field. I did that for about four years.
During this time, I was getting to the age by which that a woman is expected to be married in India. I had tons of friends, but I never dated anyone. In India, dating isn’t an integral part of our culture since it’s common for people to have arranged marriages. My family started recommending men for me to choose. An arranged marriage wasn’t part of my plan, but I wasn’t against it since I didn’t have the chance to socialize with men often on my own.
There are a lot of preconceived notions about arranged marriages, but they aren’t always as controlling as everyone thinks. I had a say in who I would like to get in contact with. My family gave me options, and I got to make my own choices. When I picked a man I was interested in, I learned that he studied and lived in the United States in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was thousands of miles away in India, so to get to know each other, we skyped for six months before we met in person when he came back to visit India. I had already met his family who lived in India before meeting him, and I enjoyed all their company.
After meeting in person, we decided we wanted to spend the rest of our life together. We got married in December of 2011, when I was 28 years old. The next year, I left India, the only country I had ever lived, and moved to the United States with my husband.
I was excited to soon discover a new culture and begin my new life. By then, my only knowledge of American culture had come from TV and friends that had traveled to the U.S. How exciting it was to experience it all in person! I was finally going to see the country I had heard such good things about. A new life was on the horizon for me, and I was thrilled to embark on my next journey.
Living in the United States was a new, strange yet fascinating experience. Even though I had some idea about what to expect, I still ran into things that gave me culture shock. One silly thing that threw me off was the fact that I had to check the weather every morning. I didn’t have to worry about things like snow in India. Most of the times I could roll out of bed and expect a nice, warm day.
I also wasn’t used to strangers being friendly to me. Our neighbors would wave and smile at us when we walked by. This gesture confused me. “Why is this person waving at me? I don’t know them,” I’d think. I later learned that it was common to greet strangers to be polite. This made me laugh because if I had to do the same courtesy in India, I’d be constantly waving and smiling because of the huge population there.
I didn’t expect any language barriers since I went to a school where English was the primary language, but when I came here, I had to get used to the different dialects and lingos. What did “ope” mean? I had to adjust to the lingo of Ohioans pretty fast.
In 2013, I went to The University of Cincinnati for my master’s degree in Information Systems and started my corporate career after graduation the next year. The initial plan was to just stay in the United States for five years, but I don’t think my husband and I plan to move back anytime soon. We welcomed a baby boy at the end of 2015. My mother was very hopeful that we would go back, but I found that as you grow, responsibilities start taking over your life and your decisions are no longer your own. Everything is dependent upon your family now.
I do love living in Cincinnati. I once read about a woman who wasn’t sure if she wanted to move back to India after living in another country for so long. She described herself as a foreigner everywhere now, which is something that I can relate to. When I go back to visit my family in India, I feel like a foreigner there. Everything is changing and evolving. Now I have half of Indian culture and half of American culture ingrained in my personality. Life is such a wonder.
Learning that I couldn’t achieve my childhood dream was a hard pill to swallow, but I did anyway. I decided that my plan was to not have a plan. I came to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason. You have to go with the flow. Whatever comes my way, I just roll with it. I don’t stress myself out, because it would only make things worse. Rather than regretting achievements I didn’t obtain, I’m thankful for the little things that enrich my life. Although you may have planned for something for so long to the point where the plan falls apart, it’s okay. There’s always another route you can take. Things often don’t go as planned. Sometimes it’s good to have a plan B and try to get used to the change.
This is the story of Rasika Bahiramwar
Rasika works and lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband and son whom she looks to find positivity in her life. She lived in India until she was 28 and agreed to an arranged marriage with a man who had come from India to study and later work in the United States. Instead of getting upset by the changes in her life, she embraced them and looked with hope toward the future.
This story first touched our hearts on October 23, 2017.
| Writer: Kristen Petronio | Editor: Manqin Jin |