I landed in Kansas. I was so tired after travelling around half the world on empty stomach that I was ready to crash anywhere and everywhere. I had thrown up pretty much everything I had eaten in installments. I was one of those annoying co-passengers holding a vomit bag to my mouth. So anyway, I had met Ashok and Santy at my Port of Entry in Chicago Airport and spent a couple of hours with them before heading to Kansas and I was ready to meet my brother. After I landed I was busy fighting with the cart machine not reading the instructions that asked me to deposit a dollar bill. I reasoned to myself that if it was free in Chicago it should be in Kansas too right? When I looked up I saw my brother intently looking around the baggage claim area trying to spot me. The two of us quickly hugged, picked bags, he made fun of me, and we were off in his convertible Pontiac to his bachelor pad.
Two minutes into the drive I asked my brother, "So this is America? This it is? That's all?" My brother nodded excited. I looked around at the empty land on either side of I-435 and a tear came down my cheek. "Can I go back to India? I know it is expensive but I will pay it all back once I start earning," I begged my brother. My brother freaked out. He had no idea how to handle a crying sister who was hit by home sickness already. I had barely stepped off the flight. And the more I saw of Kansas City the more I wanted to cry. I missed Chennai, my family, my friends, my house, my car, my everything, I wanted to go back to all of them and I was not sure I wanted to be in America any more.
We got to his apartment and for the first time in my life I was locked in an elevator car with a couple making out next to us. Both me and my brother were super uncomfortable waiting for the elevator to reach the tenth floor. After I saw my brother's studio apartment I was even more disappointed. I wanted my house and my room!!!! My brother assured me that in a few days we would drive to South Dakota, pick up my SIL and then move into a bigger apartment but that did not help much because my brother sucked at cooking. The food he had cooked for me made me cry for mother even harder.
For no reason (well actually there was) or rhyme, I cried for more than two weeks. I would go to my brother's school, chat online with my friends in Chennai sobbing non-stop. Then my brother took me on my first long distance drive from Kansas to South Dakota and things changed from there. We had a great time. The drive was fun and meeting my SIL and eating good food helped me a lot. Following that trip my brother and I visited Kansas State Univ. my Alma-Mater to be and I got excited. I think about this time my tears were all dried up and I was ready to start school and my new life. And by this time I had also seen my future-husband so everything was in place, life was in motion.
That was ten years ago and today I am ashamed to confess that I have been back to India only twice in the last ten years. My memories are of a Chennai that only me and people from my generation will remember and I can never forget them! Ever! They are mine for keeps!