Born in India, Grown in America

I sat down with my dad recently and asked if he regretted moving to America from India.

When I was born in the northern city of Lucknow, India in December 1995, he had already left a few months earlier for a new job in the States. My mom wanted us to stay behind so I could be born in their home country, India. A few months later, we packed up and met my dad in Colorado. My little sister was born six years later.

That’s where we spent our childhood and teen years. And although my dad’s job relocated our family to Dallas after 15  years in Denver, I took the first opportunity to head back to my  homeland: Colorado, specifically the University of Colorado at Boulder.

I have always wondered if my parents ever regretted their decision to raise me here. They came to this country with very little knowledge about the culture and lifestyle. My mom ate Burger King almost every meal!

Since then, my parents have become very Americanized, but have stayed true to our Indian roots, too. We eat Indian food almost every meal. My parents speak Hindi between each other and to us (even though my sister and I always speak English).  And they have made sure we both know how to read, write and speak Hindi.

We recognize and celebrate major Indian holidays, such as Diwali, the festival of lights. In fact, since Diwali is usually in early November, we put up lights inside and outside our house in late October, and keep them until New Year’s, serving as Christmas lights, as well.

My family and I try to visit India at least once every two years. Going to India is always an incredible, mind-boggling experience. I love seeing my family, and interacting with them always comes a lot easier than I expect. Because I became fluent in Hindi at such a young age (thanks to my parents), I am able to communicate effortlessly with them.

The last time I visited, I was able to finally be a tourist – I visited Jaipur, Rajasthan, the Taj Mahal, and more. It made me appreciate India’s beauty more than ever before. I know tons of people in the States who are skeptical of visiting India – the poverty, the food, the crowds. It can be daunting to people who are accustomed to cookie-cutter suburbs in America. It’s still daunting to me sometimes.

But the way I dress, act, speak, and even look might confuse native Indians and constantly confuses Americans, because everything about me is so American.

I feel blessed every day to be fluent in the cultures, languages, and lifestyles of two very different parts of the world. While I fully accept that I am very Americanized, I will never forget where my roots lie. I think my parents and my sister also resonate with this. It has been too long since I last visited India, and I can’t wait to go back and explore more of one of the most diverse countries the world.

But what about my dad? Does he regret moving here?

“We wanted you both to be raised here because you are receiving a better education and have access to better opportunities than you would if we had stayed in India.”

“Absolutely not.”

Vasundhara Tyagi