Just wanted to document my monologue for some of my friends, I will blog about my experience preparing for it in another blog.
This is just a copy-paste from a word file and has stage directions, language/pronunciation helps and speaker notes. Hopefully, it does not confuse you.
FYI: Wyoming Monologue was a stage reading that happened on 02/25/2012 in the Education Auditorium at 9PM; following the Vagina Monologue. It presented the local voices of Wyoming in a coffee shop setting.
Wyoming (Equality State):
My First Experience of Living in America
My First Experience of Living in America
By Gurudatha Pai
When I heard the call for this event, I heard it as Wyoming monologues. What Wyoming has meant to me is my first stay in a place other than home, India, and so my first home in the United States.
I have been in this town for almost 4 years now. And now, it’s about time I figure out what next. Thinking about the future, I think of [takes it out of his pocket and shows the audience] this dollar bill, one with a bet written on it. The friend who gave me the dollar thinks I am going to stay in the US. Everyone always wants to know, are you staying or going? If I say, “I want to return to my homeland and contribute.,” my Indian friends here laugh. “Oh yeah? Everyone says that! Most people don’t go back! You won’t be the exception, no matter what you say.”
Of course, it is not exceptional to travel to the US for advanced training. But it is a little unusual to see the US by living in its least populated state. For us growing up in India the “United States of America!!” was defined by the images we got; the sky-scrapers, the 8-lane highways, the Hollywoods and the Manhattans, on the big screen. I first heard of Denver only when a Bollywood super star, Madhuri Dixit, married a Doctor from there. When I arrived in Denver, my friend who picked us up from the airport said in Fort Collins, “This is the last place you see people until we reach Laramie.” I thought he could not be serious [Pause]. We saw open lands, not people, and we saw these strange looking snow barriers - just happy no snow yet. [Happy, giggle!!]
Sometimes other students ask, “Why did you come to University of Wyoming?” My answer is that I have done my homework and University of Wyoming is a great school, in a [small pause] quiet little town. I am not interested in the rat race. I want to enhance my skills and learn to do something very well. Coming to a small town did not bother me. Most Indians you would meet came from medium sized towns for our first 16 years of schooling; towns much like Laramie, perhaps. Most of us do ok with small towns, fewer people, no malls. After all, India is a country of villages. Of course, international students who have grown up in big cities will have more adjustment. Now I feel I would not do well with all the hassles of a big city.
Some people tell me that some international students feel frustrated to be amongst so many people who may not understand them. I think it is very difficult if not impossible for an Indian to know what it is like to be an American much like it is for a non-Indian to know about “being an Indian”! But, I wouldn’t imagine people in WY mistreating me. It is a small place, people know each other, and people generally don’t have much to complain about, except, may be the weather?! [Pause.] I was once in Kmart and the sales clerk asked me where I was from. After I said India, he said, “Well, welcome to Laramie. It’s good to have you here.” And the guy at the Ice Skating rink always teases me if I had tasted any mangoes on my last visit to India. I find when India is the context of a conversation; it’s easy to make friends. I have always felt welcome here in Wyoming and, in fact, everywhere I have been in this country.
You know, one thing I learned from US culture, is a way to be a little less com-pet-itive. Back at home, people can sometimes be more prone to jealousy of one another. Of course, I only speak from my own experience and I am not trying to give you an impression about all Indian students focusing on themselves. But something in that atmosphere makes India feel fairly hi-er-ar-chi-cal. So when a fellow student gets good grades, you might not be happy for them but frustrated about your own grades, it is more of a zero sum game.
The jealousy is created not just from pure emotion or ambition but from a system which often appears ar-bit-rary. Let me give you an example. Say some company X were coming to interview on a college campus. Often the college administrators would get to decide who even gets an interview. They may base it on top scores but being qualified is not solely about test scores. Talents cannot always be found in test papers! At the end of the day, it is harder to feel happy about what you have achieved. What helps is to be out of the system, to be away from the chaos and reflect on what is necessary and important. It helps to be 15000 miles away from one’s comfort zone and discover oneself.
Hmm… [breathe easy]
So what about that dollar I showed you? [Show the dollar bill to somebody in the audience]
I get to keep it if I depart because my friend bet me that I would not leave the US. I will prove them wrong though; not everyone becomes an NRI – a Non-Returing Indian. By the way, NRI stands for non-residential Indian. Five years from now I will live in India.
Why? Well, India will always be home. Plus some of my interests such as studying Sanskrit and Vedic philosophy can be best accomplished only there. And, you know, there is more to life than a career, research and money. I look forward to taking care of my parents as they go on in years, and they can’t visit me in the US very comfortably. They stayed with me here for a month a couple of years ago. They can’t drive around, they find the food practices hard to cope-up with, they don’t have friends their age to socialize with, and the thick American accent (attempt the accent) is difficult for them.
I want to return but meanwhile Wyoming has taught me a lot about my subject in a relaxed area. I have made many friends here and grown as a person. And it has also taught me skating on the ice and skiing on the snow; that a true winter will not change my spirits!
Before I end this monologue, I invite you to visit your friend India; just give me a call. “You are welcome to India; they say "a-thi-thi de-vo-bha-va" – we will be blessed to have you” □
ACK: Prof. Bonnie Zare, UWyo.
also see :
1. Going Hungry by Meg Lanker-Simons
2. Wyoming Monologue on Facebook