What happens when a woman from one culture finds herself set down in the middle of another, literally half a world away? Why she ends up doing a Cross Culture Interview with me of course. From The Showcase . . .
Meet Nishi Pal
RW: First of all for those who haven’t met you yet, tell us a little about where you grew up and where you happen to find yourself living today?
NISHI: My family is from India that is where I was raised and where I went to school and college. I currently live in Salt lake City, Utah, USA
RW: How did you come to move to the US? Was it a difficult decision to move half a world away from your home?
NISHI: It was definitely not an easy decision, however not the most difficult. In spite of the hours I was putting in I was enjoying my work at the bank where I worked. But situations were changing as I had become a first time mum to a beautiful baby girl. She needed me but since I had my family to support me in taking care of her I continued to keep my job.That’s when my husband got the opportunity from work to come to the US on a project and so you could say it was a decision in the best interests of my family.
RW: Nishi, what have you found to be the biggest difference between India and Salt Lake City where you live now?
NISHI: There are so many differences from where I come from – India and here demographics, the people, the culture. India is the land of the ancient Indus Valley civilization and home to 1.2 billion people making it the second largest country in the world. With 29 states and 7 union territories divided into four regions – North, South, East and West we have people speaking over 30 languages and numerous other dialects with Hindi and English considered the language for official communication. India home of the Taj Mahal, is considered a mega diverse country with its widespread and unique bio diversity which makes it a hot tourist destination.
Salt Lake City is a very lovely place very rich in natural beauty. What I would note as the biggest difference between India and the US would be in the public infrastructure and the medical care system here. India in spite of being such a large country lags behind when it comes to roads. The roads in the US are much wider and public infrastructure is very well managed however, medical care is so much cheaper in India and hassle free.
RW: What do you think of the political atmosphere in the US and how does it compare to that of India?
NISHI: This is not a question that I can answer in a couple of sentences but I’ll start off with the similarities; both the US and India are democracies and in both countries citizens enjoy a lot of freedoms. However, when you have a two party system here . . . in India we have several political parties and small regional parties so the diversity of the nation shows even in its politics.
RW: What was your life like back home as far as how people in the US would find different or unusual than an American would be accustomed to?
NISHI: In India life for me revolved mostly around work and home.When in America people are more accustomed to an 8 hour work schedule, in India we tend to extend the hours to 10 maybe even 12..Its not the rule but it happens. Also in India we have a very close knit family structure and when in America you move out of your parents homes when you are 18, in India we continue to stay until we get married and even then many people live close by their parents or even take care of them in their old age so you don’t exactly miss out on family time.
But in general Americans would find India crowded and chaotic.
RW: What would you say was the biggest challenge when you first moved to the US?
NISHI: Getting to places on my own used to be a challenge initially. Here I’ve noticed you have the system where places where you shop are far from residential areas so without a driver’s license and a car it was tough to get to places on your own. That was a challenge.
RW: What do you think your American friends find the most surprising about you?
NISHI: American friends find the fact that I had an arranged marriage very surprising. Here I guess the girl and the boy fall in love and then let the parents know but in India majority of the marriages are arranged and fixed by the families of the bride and the groom.Which is not as bad a situation as it seems.. 🙂
RW: We’ve talked about the differences and challenges, what if any are some surprising similarities between your home and the US?
NISHI: The retail experience is similar I think..A by product of globalization no doubt.
RW: What do you miss about home?
NISHI: My Family and friends.
RW: Of course, are there special things such as favorite foods from home you have a difficult time finding in the US?
NISHI: I’ve found there are Indian stores here that sell Indian food and they seem to have everything – the spices, the mixes – everything we need. So not much difficulty there.
RW: Now I want to ask a few questions about your Blogging. Starting a blog can be an impulse but working a blog is more than that. What brought you to create your blog and what keeps you engaging in it?
NISHI: Yes, Ron, you are right, you could say it starts off on an impulse. Writing I feel is for me a highly meditative and therapeutic experience. I was looking at blogging as a creative outlet, a space where I could just write and express myself. With time I realised to make your blogging experience worth the while, to maintain the momentum, was not always so easy you have those phases…where you feel your mind is like fallow uncultivated land land and you look for seeds of inspiration to feel alive again. Not all of us are lucky like you Ron.. 😉
What keeps me engaged would be a sense of commitment to continue and develop what I started…also the positive vibes and the energy that I receive from the comments and feed back of my fellow bloggers and the wisdom and knowledge they share through their blogs.
RW: You don’t often write stories but more often slice of life articles and poems, is there a hidden author inside waiting to escape? If so, what would you like to write?
NISHI: I’m still experimenting and learning, Ron. Serious writing is something I would consider pursuing down the line. Maybe a historical novel . . . I’m not sure. It’s too early to say still.
(Note: I knew Nishi was a writer, I was already following her blog, but then she wrote a piece that jumped out and showed me what she could really do. It was called ‘My Best Friend’.)
RW: What about blogging has been the most surprising to you?
NISHI: What most surprised me is the strong network of bloggers or as I would like to consider them the wonderful new friends I have made here at WordPress. Their varied talents and the rich experiences just take my breath away every time. My friends in blogging have opened my eyes to a lot of new things. Also, I’ve learnt a lot about myself in the process.
RW: Where would you like to see your blog head as far as content and what it represents?
NISHI: I would like to see it grow creatively and with respect to the quality of the work I put out. I would like for it to represent me as the best possible version of me as only then will others benefit from reading what I write and what I have to offer.
RW: Now for a few fun things, what is your favorite scent or smell or aroma and why?
NISHI: I love roses. I’ve always loved the scent of roses also since Roses are associated to my birth month June. But, since we are doing a cross cultural piece one smell that I love and reminds me of my home in India is the smell of jasmines. My mother used to wear a perfume that had the smell of jasmine also we had a couple of jasmine bushes behind our home. It’s the most refreshing smell when you wake up in the morning and step into the backyard . . . the dewy morning air mixed with the scent of fresh jasmine flowers. Divine!
RW: What’s your favorite thing about where you live now?
NISHI: I love Salt lake City simply love the place! My most favorite thing would be the mountains surrounding the place that we live. In the mornings stepping out into the balcony and just looking at them relaxes me.
RW: What is your favorite word and why?
NISHI: I don’t use this word often and I know it sounds funny but I like the word ‘Splendid!’ and how it sounds.. Splendid isn’t it?
RW: Splendid indeed.
I want to thank Nishi for joining us today and agreeing to this interview. I enjoy following her blog The Showcase and I also follow her Tweets. I suggest you all visit her blog and get your enjoy on.
Cultures are varied but we find they are so much alike in many ways. Our internet world has made it easier to learn about each other. We just need to take advantage of it and maybe we can make this world better and more united. Perhaps we may even rid ourselves of the misconceptions we are fed.
Until the next Cross Culture Feature,
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