Indira S. Somani, journalist, PhD

Settling into life in India

I’m settling into life in India.  The traffic in Bangalore is a nightmare, something that is taking me some time to get used to, coming from Lexington, Va.  I, obviously, have the benefit of having prior experiences in India, being an Indian-American, who has traveled here for past 40 years.  I’m not in total shock when I land in India.  However, it’s still been an adjustment. For me, it’s been a challenge getting around, i.e. taking care of my FRRO registration, SIM card, etc. , as I am not fluent in any Indian language. (My parents always spoke English at home., so I never learned an Indian language fluently.  However, I probably understand Bengali the most).  I am actually renting a room from a close friend of my mother’s, who has been very helpful getting me settled.  I take the faculty van to get to the Institute.  Thank goodness her place of residence is close to one of the van’s pick-up points.  The commute each way is about an hour.  I take an auto-rickshaw in the mornings to catch the faculty van.  I can’t imagine what it’s like for an American who has never been to India before.  Even I’m struggling with the concept of trying to establish a daily routine admist the chaos. For me, India has always been the place to go to see extended family or have a vacation.  I feel so lucky that my mom’s close friend lives in Bangalore, otherwise, I don’t know what I would have done.  Bangalore has some of the best weather in India, and this is where most of the call centers are located.  Therefore it’s become highly congested with the high-tech industry.  Most people speak Kannada, which is not even close to Hindi or Bengali.  If I even attempt to speak Hindi with my American accent, the price of Auto-rickshaw doubles.  I’m definitely living between worlds as I try and fit in to my parent’s homeland.