Although my focus has been on biological family so far, I would like to take a moment to talk about the new folks I have met on this trip. Some of these friends have become my family through my choice. Others, I avoid like the plague after the initial meeting, also by choice. Some I met through church, others through extended family, but all now are a part of my world. Initially, I may appear interesting to new folks because I am new and different in their social spheres.
Sometimes folks are overly excited to meet me, especially when they find out I live and work in the United States. I find that to be disconcerting at times because I have learned the hard way that some people will use you to gain something better for their lives. To be fair, the overly enthusiastic people could just be offering the respect and affection they have for my parents to me, which is a wonderful thing. Other times, they have no idea who I am beyond the U.S. passport.
Imagine for a moment that you are stuck in an inescapable place or moment in life where your day to day existence is interminable. The opportunities for you or your family to succeed or to make money are very limited. If you are in this position, you might decide to avail yourself of any chance that comes along no matter the cost to anyone else. Some of us who have had arranged marriages with men or women from abroad understand this firsthand, so a reluctance to engage with those whose excitement overflows like a geyser upon hearing that you work and live in the U.S. is normal. My caution might be off putting for those who have never experienced being used for a ticket to the United States. It’s been many years since this happened and I have come to understand and respect the depths someone will go to in order to “rescue” themselves from their terrible situation.
However, I am still on guard for those who may see me only as a potential ticket or conduit to attaining their wishes. They are quite easy to spot. Once they realize that I cannot bring them to the United States or that I do not have the money parents have, they stop communicating with me. Rather than being annoyed or irritated, I take it for what it is. What they are doing is not personal nor is it a reflection on me. Here in India, that’s life. What can someone do for you? Nothing? Well, then let’s not waste time pretending that we are friends.
From an American sensibility, it might seem opportunistic or selfish, but is it really? Isn’t this what we do with old coworkers, friends, or neighbors when we take a new job or move to a new place? How about the folks in our networks who we’ve stopped communicating with on LinkedIn or Facebook because they do not contribute anything positive or constructive to our lives? Have you considered those whom you have not heard from in a long time? Whatever the reason may be, don’t judge. Just appreciate the people who are important and present in your life.