This I Believe

Sridevi - Fairfax, Virginia
Entered on January 19, 2007

Chili with an Indian twist

Texas chili, Mexican chili, Chili con carne…and yes, masala chili. Take any generic chili recipe, add some garam masala powder, some turmeric, glimpses of my mom seasoning her rasam in her kitchen, extra cumin, extra paprika, the sunlight coming through the window of the tiny kitchen in my parents’ apartment in India, and yes, a dash of coconut milk for flavor. Thats the version of chili I like. I, am a first generation Indian woman settled in America since six years. Six years is a long time, George Bush getting elected, September 11th, layoffs in the country, Tsunami outside in the world, War on Iraq, and we already have news filled with the next presidential election, on the other hand- I got another degree, my brother and sister in law had a baby girl, I went back to India and got married, my mother in law visited us, I went back for my father’s heart surgery, I gained a few pounds too.

Things are happening around me and the last couple of years were the happiest in my life. I have my own family now, a house that is a home, a husband who is my best friend and my own kitchen with a window. But even today, when I think of my childhood, my family, the festivities, my neighbors and lost best friends, my heart becomes as heavy as it was the day I flew from India to US for the first time.

It was a need to get a higher degree that drove me to this country initially. My friends laughed when I told them I will go back after a few years. Guess it never happened. I wonder how many of the 1,678,765 people that moved to USA from India in that year went back. Ofcourse, I need not wonder how many of them feel the same nostalgia like I do. The media surely helps taking us closer to the past and present in our country. Last night I watched the latest bollywood release ‘Guru’ in a theatre nearby. It still takes me a few moments after I come out of a bollywood movie to realize that I am in US.

I have made new friends here, have new favourite places to visit, have accomplishments to boast about, have my own so called ‘lifestyle’ which I enjoy all I can and take solace in Jhumpa Lahiri, some Indian music and my kitchen when nostalgia hits me. But every once in a while, I have to make some masala chili to enjoy with my american crackers and cheese. This is my way of coming to a closure at the end of the day in a country that I beleive will be mine someday.