Friday, April 06, 2012

Thanks to my Stay in US, A Good Lesson Learnt

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The other day when I was talking about a list of students selected for a particular award to someone from Kerala and he immediately asked me
Friend (F): So how many are “our” students? (Stressing the word “OUR”)

Me: What do you mean by “our”?
F: I mean students from Kerala
Me: I went through the entire list but never looked that list from that angle. So I am not sure how many students are there from Kerala.
F: That is strange
That may be strange to my friend, but not for me. This conversation reverberated in my mind for some time. Thinking about this conversation, it took me back to my old days when I use to see each and every thing from “Kerala angle”. This was especially true when I was working as a software engineer in Chennai soon after my bachelors in engineering. In Chennai I was very particular that I could eat only Kerala food, I made it a point that I had only Keralite friends and I stayed with people from Kerala. I was viewing everything from “Kerala” and “Malayalam” and everything related to that was good and others were bad
When I went to the US, initially whenever I talked to my friends from other states I was sure to talk about Kerala and Kerala only. Some of my close friends from other states even used to make fun of me (I am sure they are reading this now). Slowly I started mingling with a lot people from other states in India and countries. I had friends from almost all states in India, South America, Europe, South Asia and Australia while doing my MS and PhD. Frequent interaction with them made me realize the “hollowness” of my thought process. I started seeing everyone as same. I have changed to such an extent that after coming back to India and settling in Tamil Nadu, I never ever felt that I was working in a state other than Kerala.
After joining VIT University, there were times when I never realize that a student I am talking to is from Kerala until he/she talks to me in Malayalam. This may have happened after talking to them for over six months. If I joined here soon after my Bachelors, the first thing I could have asked is if he/she is from Kerala before I even start a conversation. I feel if I hadn’t gone to US and hadn’t met so many people from so many different states and countries, I might still have been the old narrow minded guy, who knows!

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Blogger Karthikeyan said...

Of course, it does. I find it incredible that there are still some who have lived in the US for years and plan to settle down here and still have not come out of their mental cocoon.

I for one strongly feel that anyone over 18 must be sent away from home for his/her higher education. I found out how easy it was for people who did their bachelors away from home when they came here than for someone like me who was at home all his life until leaving India.

I digress. It's good to know that you have gotten over your parochial impulse, esp in a profession like yours, you don't want to categorize your students based on the language they spoke instead of the content.

April 06, 2012 7:39 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Kumar, Cross-Cultural Coach said...

It's good to realize that experiences can change us!

More so, it's nice to hear that you bought back something good from the US!

Most of those I talk to in Kochi say "Oh there's plenty good in the US, but people mostly bring back the bad!"

Thanks for the positive vibes.

April 06, 2012 9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narrow mindedness includes writing boring posts on Kerala one after the other? ;)

April 07, 2012 5:15 AM  
Blogger Pradeep said...

I have worked in Kerala,Haryana, Delhi,UP,Austrian, Italy and now here in Kenya! I started in the early nineties with a feeling that we Keralites have a lot to boast around! During the course of time I learned that every part of the world have its own positives and negatives. Narrow mindedness is the main reason for most of the problems in this world. Lets us raise above and let us work on it to become a global citizen.

April 07, 2012 8:21 AM  
Blogger Akshaya Borkar said...

Nice post and I can certainly relate to your experience. But I still meet some NRI's in Australia who still like to be with same lingual people and some even go further to categorise as per caste, which is very annoying.

April 12, 2012 4:05 AM  

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