Personal She was not smiling. I got up,



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I looked up to see a blurry figure of my mothertapping a few fingers on my shoulder. “Sorry to wake you up, Rishi, but me andDaddy have something important to tell you.” She was not smiling.

I got up, now fully awake, wondering what was going on. With my fatherstanding next to her, my mother crossed her arms and, in a tone that I knewcould not be argued with, stated, “We have decided to move to Indiapermanently.”I was awestruck. My family is Indian, but I had never so much asconsidered living anywhere but Peach Tree Court, a street that had the brightestgreen maple trees and fields of radiant yellow and orange marigolds. India wasnothing more than an old family story to me, not a place to live.Over the next couple of weeks, I ruminated on what life would be like inIndia. My brother, who already attended an Indian boarding school, told me inscratchy long-distance telephone conversations how great life was in India athis boarding school.”We have the best futbol (soccer) field in all of India,” he said.

“Ithas an electronic scoring board, and the surface is fluorescent blue astroturf.”This was an enormous motivation factor, due to the fact that soccer is myfavorite sport. “And the food is delectable,” he went on, “They serve chickencurry with juicy vegetables four out of the seven days of the week.” I atechicken curry every chance I got, so this, added to the soccer field, made theschool sound fantastic.”The weather is remarkable.

The temperature year-round is seventy-fiveto eighty degrees,” he continued with emphasis, “just like California, Rishi.”My brother knew that I loved California. He also told me that I would get tovisit our parents two times a week, which is very generous compared to otherIndian boarding schools.My brother’s long-distance stories convinced me. From what I had heard,India sounded like utopia.

Six weeks after my mother woke me with the big “news,” my father, motherand I arrived in India. We left Peach Tree Court, with all its beautiful mapletrees, and flew to India. I stepped off the airplane into the dirtiest, oldestairport I had ever seen.A film of dirt covered everything in the airport; the windows, the walls,even the floor.

And the people working there seemed more likely to shrug theirshoulders and ignore the passengers than care at all if anything worked right.In order to keep my spirits high, I kept telling myself, “Things will be a lotbetter once we get to the school.”After a 45-minute drive through a landscape that looked nothing likeCalifornia, we arrived at the school. I was starting to get uneasy. The old,rusted gate that provided entrance to the school shrieked hideously when itopened and closed.

There were fifty-foot tall trees encompassing the wholecampus, so it was very dark and gloomy even though it was only two o’clock inthe afternoon. It was raining very hard; I suppose my brother forgot to mentionthat India is known for its excessive flooding during monsoon season. As wewalked through the campus, I noticed that the school buildings had a common’theme’ among them. All of them had an exterior of peeling pink paint, withwhite blotches where the paint had fallen off. The buildings didn’t even havereal windows, instead they had square holes in the walls with steel bars throughthem.My parents gave me hugs and then left quickly to set up the furniture intheir new home.

The following week was one that I hate to think of to this day.The schools only gave us one hour a day for leisure, the rest of the time beingdedicated to either sleeping, eating, or studying. The ‘chicken curry withjuicy vegetables’ that my brother tantalized me with turned out to be a gruesomesoybean substitute for chicken.

I can only guess that my brother had eaten itso many times that he had grown to appreciate its garbage-like taste andappearance.My brother loved the school (for some reason), and I could tell on myvisits to home that my parents were enjoying living in India, especially withoutany children in the house. But all I could think about were the maple trees andmarigolds of Peach Tree Court.

That place seemed like utopia

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