The Immigrant Diaries – Edition 7 – Venturing out

Here is the next edition of the ‘Immigrant Diaries’ – a serialised story of the adventures and adjustments of life on an H4 visa or that of a new immigrant in the US. It started with Ruchi’s semi-blind love marriage to Arjun, and her trip to the US to her new life. You can find edition 6 here. 

The driving test had gone smoother than expected. Arjun had recommended that she drive extremely slow and she had followed his advice much to the exasperation of the friendly African American guy who her Driving Examiner. ‘Lady’, he said, ‘Just ram your foot on the pedal. I may have to fail you for going so slow’. But despite that comment and being able to parallel park in two tries, she had passed with flying colors. 

Tucked into her red leather wallet was her new Georgia Drivers License. The feeling was very liberating, even though she had not yet ventured out in the car on her own. It meant she now had a US issued ID and that she would not have to lug her passport around for flights within the country or other such purposes. Another step, she thought, towards belonging.  

The whole experience leading up to the license test had been a revelation of sorts in her relationship with Arjun. After they first real ‘fight’, there had been several others, of varying intensity and not all related to driving. Sometimes she had found herself initiating them. It was as if after months of being on their best behavior they were finally relaxing, letting go of some of the tension of trying to have a perfect first year.  

It had relaxed them in other ways.  They had begun going on quick weekend day trips to places around Atlanta. The charming pseudo German town of Helen, Rock City and Ruby Falls, the Anna Ruby falls. They drove down to the Chattahoochee River that crawled around Atlanta and spend an evening sitting on the shore, watching people go by on kayaks and canoes. Whereas Dolly had been her confidant, she found herself talking more to Arjun now. Life wasn’t as smooth but wasn’t as tense either. 

And then one Saturday morning, Arjun, having worked late most of the week refused to get out of bed.  

‘Come on,’ she said, ‘these are the only two days I have in the week to go out. I don’t want to lose that.’ 

‘Well,’ (and she knew it had to come at some point) ‘now you can drive. Take the car.’ 

And then he settled back onto the rumpled pillows cementing his decision with loud snores.  

She pondered and paced. She had to get out. She had been up for three hours and the apartment was getting on her nerves, as it did on the weekends. Well Kroger wasn’t that far. And it was right next to a Target. She had driven there several times with Arjun.  

She picked up her keys and left. Down the gray road inside the apartment complex to the gate and then the left turn onto the main road. And then two right turns, a couple of stops and she was there. It seemed to have taken a long time but she had done it. Tiny stabs of excitement clawed at her throat. She stepped out of the car trying to look casual and elegant when she actually wanted to call home, her mom, Arjun, anyone who cared and tell them.  

She walked up and down Target, perusing the aisles. She could buy nothing. The feeling of being out on her own was too overwhelming to allow her to deal with picking up the next St. Ives Lotion or wooden spatula for her home. She flicked through the clothes, always aware – I am alone, I am alone.  

By the time she was done with Kroger it was late. Time for lunch. She walked over to the neighboring ‘Orient Express’ for some takeout. Just her decisions. No Arjun to talk to.  

And then she drove back home. Just a little more American than before.

 (To be Continued)

I also write on other topics related to the H4 visa. One on improving your career while on the H4 visa and one on volunteering on H4 visa are here and linked to others. A latest one on activities to try on H4 is here.

Do let me know your thoughts in the comments. I would love to hear them. Also, it would be great if you register on the site and share your H4 stories but that is not neccessary for comments.

Last 5 posts by Amrita Bakshi



20 Comments

  1. Pry

    I remember the first time I went alone.It was so exhilirating..

  2. hi amrita,
    Well…I can relate to your post in very futuristic sense – i got my license and my very own set of wheels today. i HAVE been out on my own – as I used to walk it all the way to grocery stores and departmental stores ( a good 2 miles or so). But driving to these places will give me much more american (read:independent) feel. Just the thought makes my heart beat a little faster !

  3. Ratna

    Hi Amrita, Greetings, I just stopped by your site while I was browsing for dinner/ lunch ideas for kids. I have been there on your site since past 3 hours.. can you believe it.. wow.. the H4 stories are just amaizing.. I am wondering if this episode (7th edition) The immigrants Dairy.. is still there to read upon.. or finished..
    Keep going..
    Goodluck
    Ratna

  4. Amrita

    Ratna, thank you so much for your comment. I have been going through a writers block and have not been able to write as much for ages. Sometimes you need some inspiration, and I think your comment was it for me. I think I will be able to post the next edition next week. I would love it if you let me know what you think. Also, you can login and write too – I would love to hear from you on any topic of your choice. Were you on H4 once?

  5. Ratna

    Hi Amrita, these kind of appreciation words works as ” Motivational Busters’ for the Moms like us. In away, they act as “Jaadu ki chappi”.. 🙂 giving us more energy to carry our job as a proud “parent’..
    well. I was never on H4.. but heard lot of similar stories from friends.. relatives.. cousins.. 🙂 ofcourse, my present status in Singapore is as the same as life as H4. I am on DP(Dependant Pass) here in Singapore since 19 months; having worked for 12 + Years in Human Resources in Managerial Position , I found, parenting is a challenging job, one could ever do and have self satisfaction with whatever they do.. and satisfy the kids as well. .. I am SAHM of 3 1/2 old Hyperactive Son.. managing him alone (ofcourse, his Dad is also there 😛 I should not be ignoring him) with lot of social / behavioral problems when we go out with him. So for us, no social gatherings.. except to the doctor’s visit, or to a quick shop at any close by supermarket.. or to any near by Playground.. when no other kids are playing…:-) well… he is a very sweet boy… with lot of kinetic energy.. and that keeps me busy to find out new things for him.. always.. new food. new activity.. what to eat today in the dinner.. what to do after coming from the school.. how to spend weekends and summer holidas..and short breaks…. what games to play.. and what movies to watch.. and what books to read.. so, his energy keeps my spirits up and mind and body sharp.. and “on the go’ always…:-) lols.. “blogging” is my one of the main “stress busters”.. while doing lot of HR Related volunteer work.. in my “little free time” when my son is at school and off to sleep.. 😛 …… I am waiting my PR (Permanent Residentship) to be approved here in Singapore as to become again a “working mom”.. ofcourse. I am right now also working.. but now, no monies earned..:-) so.. keep up your spirits.. and get going with your stories.. I ‘ll pitch in .. to read more.. Good day.. Ratna

  6. Amrita Bakshi

    Ratna, good morning! I think its becoming morning there. I love the way you say kinetic energy. I can use the same term for my kids sometimes. You know it took me a long time to realize that one way to keep myself busy when I am at home with my kids is to plan things and do activities. In the begining I would just sit around and let them play and they would be cranky and asking for attention, and I would be bored. Now its different. I did not know there was something like an H4 in other countries. I hope your PR comes soon. I will post the next edition next week. Great talking to you!

  7. Ratna

    Thank you Amrita.. Yep.. it ‘s a sunny.. clear morning out here @ 10.20 AM.. i just finished my first and important task of the day.. sending my son to the school……:-) well.. I have 4 hours in hand.. call it as “My Personal Time”.. and have lot of things on agenda.. to complete before he comes back by 3.15 PM…:-) BTW, are you on orkut or Facebook.. or on linkedin.com.. if so, please do let me know.. would like to be part of your (professional / Mom’s) network.

    Have a good night. best
    Ratna

  8. We had a sunny day too, after days of biting cold. Mornings are like that for me too – getting ready for school. Hope you had a good day. I am not into social networking. I do want to do more writing and I have noticed that it is a huge time sink and distraction in the couple of hours I do get to do any concentrated stuff . But my email is amritabakshi33@gmail.com, maybe we can stay in touch that way.
    Enjoy your day!

  9. Vila

    Wow, just like my story! Great job Amritha. I love your articles.

  10. kavi

    Hey Amritha, Reading this was reading my own life ..well almost!
    It amazing how similar lives of women who marry guys living in the US. Loneliness, a yearning to network and a feeling that something is amiss!

  11. soumya

    Hey Amrita, I have been reading all your articles from past 2 hours 🙂 They’re really gr8 and I’m kind of sad that I finished reading them all. Would love see the continuation of this story from you 🙂

  12. shali

    Hey Amrita, I have been reading your articles since the last 2 days…They are amazing ..i just came few months back…its very much similar to all….I am waiting for the next edition…its a kind of bonding that we all share here…keep it up …:))

  13. ratna praveen

    hi iam ratna,i liked yr story a lot.i wish i had read it in my H4 days,from 1999-2004.now that v r back to india for good ,with 2 US born kids.my last 7 years in india where more like a clocks pendulam .1day i feel good about how secured life is in india,without visa status or monthly installments,the next day i feel so sorry for my kids not able to enjoy the luxuries of US,the american slang,………
    may be i should write a blog on indian moms with US kids.pl. reply

  14. Ankita

    Hey Amrita,
    I have been reading your blog since an hour or two and can say I am in love with it..Seems like somebody is expressing my life in real words…really wondering,how similar life we use to live on H4..

  15. Meera

    Hi Amrita,
    Your blog brought tears to my eyes. Its funny, emotional and very genuine. My heart reaches out to all who have gone through this. Not that, I am out of my H4 status. I am still very much on my H4, but has not given up looking for a permanent job. I am doing all the right things for past 16 months and I do not have any intention to stop looking for a job. My story is quite different from what you have written here, but I can relate to many many smaller details you have mentioned. Tonight, I plan to have a reading session of your blog with my husband. 🙂 Please do keep writing!

  16. sk

    Stumbled upon your article at 10 pm after my toddler son was asleep and couldn’t let go until I had finished the last one (3 am) Fantastic read reflecting my situation (almost). I came here recently on h4 after having worked for 10 yrs in IT (many a times on b1 & l1) from this very location. And kinda getting depressed with the h4 helplessness & house-wife tag.now in the driving license phase 😊. Waiting for the next edition. When she I expect it ?

  17. sushmitha

    Hello Amrita, i just came up on your site searching for volunteering on H4 and started reading this series of story. I am newly-wed woman, who has come to US, leaving my job in India and currently in H4. Came here just 2 months back. After reading your story, felt like may be most of the H4 woman must be feeling same like me. I still remember the day when i first went out alone to take a small walk in my community without my husband and felt as if i achieved something new 🙂 . Yet to go to the phase of driving, my next step.

    I am waiting for the next episode.

  18. Pushpanjali

    I stumbled upon your website yesterday and I absolutely loved ‘Immigrant Diaries’. It has been one and a half years on the US shore and I could totally relate to the things Ruchi goes through; right from her first flight to the US to the struggles of being on H4 visa. What amazed me the most was how things haven’t changed at all for H4 dependents. 2008 or 2017 doesn’t make a difference at all !

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