The Immigrant Diaries – Edition 5 – Opening the house

Hi friends, it took me a long time this time given the demands of life. But I have also received some great feedback on this from the readers and what I hear is that people would like more frequent editions, though not so long. More like ‘real diary entries’. So let me try that and maybe you all can let you know how it goes. It may also make it easier for me. For new readers, this is a story on life on an H4 visa, activities involved in that life and feelings that go with it. Do, please leave your comments. For reference, it all started here. I do promise to be more frequent from now on.

The Medu (that’s how she would always refer to him – her gentle payback) incident had finally shaken off all vestiges of a prolonged jet lag prompted by her H4 status.  She was filled with a new restlessness. For the moment at least, fear of the new country was lessened and her appetite had been whetted by the life she had seen in Medu’s office.


That Saturday she and Arjun were throwing their first party and she focused all her energies in planning it out. It was a small get together – two couples she vaguely knew and Dolly and her husband. Dolly, who would normally have helped, was so drenched in first trimester fatigue and nausea that she couldn’t offer much beyond a request to avoid any mushroom dishes (that made her throw up) and some coupons for ice cream at Kroger.


Friday she and Arjun visited the international farmers market and picked up okra, onions, small potatoes, brinjal, paneer and a variety of fresh spices. The meat and dessert would come from Kroger. She could not yet bring herself to buy the meat from the farmers market – the ones at the larger grocery stores looked so much for sanitary and non- meat like to her still green culinary scrutiny. She would make baigan bharta, paneer masala, coconut stuffed bhindi ( a microwave recipe, no less), chicken tikka, madras alu with a dessert of apple pie and ice cream. The dessert and drinks were Arjun’s department, and although he feigned disinterest and discouraged her from cooking too much, she could tell he was as excited by their first party as she was. It seemed to her that he was more aware now of their blossoming intimacy and though he tried still not to show it, it was becoming more difficult to conceal.


She slaved late into the night. Most of the recipes were new to her and she was apprehensive about their results. She had planned an elaborate menu with the hope that if one or two dishes failed, she would always have a backup. They had all seemed delicious in the recipe books she had received as wedding presents.


On a whim she bought fresh flowers that morning and their color and sweet fragrance added festivity to their hectic preparation. Oh the excitement and details of the first party in a new country! Would they have enough plates? Where would everyone sit? What if they didn’t like the food? What if the conversation flagged?


It turns out all the worries were in vain. Though the chicken was a trifle dry and the alu a little hard, the stuffed bhindi and paneer won praises from all. They sat in the living room talking late into the night of the country they had left behind and the one they were learning about. There were stories of visas and immigration and Indian stores, and Bollywood movies and cops pulling over drivers.


When they left one by one, the apartment complex was asleep but no longer lonely. She had claimed a little bit more of her America.


The next edition is here.

 I have a few other posts on H4 life here including a new one on volunteering.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi


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