Few Indians in America make any attempt to integrate in American cultural or social life. So few visit an American home or a theater or an opera, or try to understand the American psyche. An Indian’s contact with the American is confined to his colleagues working along with him and to an official or seminar luncheon. He may also mutter a “Hi!” across the fence to an American neighbor while lawn-mowing. At other times one never sees the other except by appointment, each family being boxed up in their homes securely behind locked doors.
After he has equipped his new home with the latest dish-washer, video, etc., with two cars in the garage and acquired all that the others have, he sits back with his family counting his blessings. Outwardly happy, but secretly gnawed by some vague discontent and aware of some inner turbulence or vacuum, he cannot define which. All the comfort is physically satisfying, he has immense “job satisfaction” and that is about all.
RK Narayan’s My America is a simple-yet-devastatingly ironical look of an Indian’s American life. This article of RK Narayan was written for Hindu’s Frontline in 1985. I keep reading and re-reading this but now I am starting to appreciate it better. My America has the classical writing style of RKN. Very subtle, very genius.
Sujatha had written a similar article called Vellinaattu Mogam Konda Ilaignargalukku which was even more straight-from-the-heart and hard-hitting. I had just too many discussions on this with my friends. The last few were with Balaji and Latha. But don’t worry, to pick up a discussion on this again, is a cake walk for me. I’m ready !!