The ‘KATDARE’ way of life
By Praniti Mehta
As the car door opened, a middle-aged lady with short black hair stepped out of the car with an air of confidence and pride. She had a sparkle in her eye and a smile on her lips. She was none other than Mrs. Veena Katdare, who was an Indian immigrant and my interviewee for the evening.
An immigrant can be defined as an individual that arrives permanently in a foreign land. Well, it is definitely more than that. The journey of an immigrant is not just physical but encompasses emotional and cultural transformation leading to a change in personality and thinking. In the recent years, the Indian immigration population in the United States of America has increased manifold. By and large, every Indian comes with the ‘American Dream’ aspiring to receive equal opportunities and prosperity for one’s hard work and determination. The United States of America has been successful in helping Indian immigrants achieve this ‘American Dream’ by providing financial stability and more importantly a home in a foreign land.
Mrs. Veena Katdare, a mother of two and a successful software developer, is a woman with confidence and pride. She moved to the States in the year 1992 because of her husband’s work commitments and made the city of Atlanta her new home. Young and confident Mrs. Katdare, completed her masters at Southern Polytech University thereby giving herself an identity in a foreign land. “I had to prove myself, you know”, she said.
Stepping out of her comfort zone, Mrs. Katdare started volunteering at the Parent-Teacher Association at her son’s school. When asked about her initial inhibitions, she exclaimed that the open-mindedness in the States startled her. She had never experienced such freedom of thought and expression before. Working as a volunteer helped Mrs. Katdare from being diffident to being someone who could take on the world. She overcame the barriers of language and her inbuilt inhibitions thereby making way for confidence to step in.
After completing her education she got the job of a software developer. She was impressed by the way the company selected candidates based on sheer merit and talent. She goes on to explain that in India the system of backdoor entry and power of wealth decided many job placements, therefore, the idea of skill being the overriding factor stirred her no bounds. Furthermore, she was successful in making friends with people with whom she could relate to and share her past experiences with. She says, “Having people from different walks of life, gave my life a new perspective”.
Furthermore, Mrs. Katdare is a woman who can speak her mind and can confidently give her opinions on the current world scenario. She expresses her shock when her television screen flashed the news of Mr. Donald Trump becoming the President. She goes on to say, “Trump’s rhetoric is not peaceful”. She further expresses her fear regarding the safety of women and the protection of the environment. She narrates an incident about an Indian woman being stopped at the crowded Marta station in Atlanta and asked to go back to her own country. Mrs. Katdare was apprehensive at first 32but she went to say, “I will take it as it comes”.
In addition, when asked the one thing she would like to change about the States, her prompt reply was the relationship between parents and children. She explains her opinion by sharing the story of a boy whom she met while doing volunteer work and realized that the boy was intelligent and hardworking but was not supported by his parents. He had been studying on grants from the government and did part-time jobs to make ends meet thereby making Mrs. Katdare realize that parents in the United States are less supportive and let go of their children at a tender age. On the other hand, she wishes for a corruption free India and where “people don’t have to pay the police to escape a fine”. All in all, she feels that she has been able to maintain her Indian ideals and at the same time open her heart to new perspectives.
A voracious reader, Mrs. Katdare gives candid thoughts on her country, India. She says that she misses the essence of family bonding and the crowded streets of her city, Mumbai. She says, “I never felt lonely in India but in the States, I have to pay the price of loneliness”. She makes it a point to speak to her parents every day and pay them a visit occasionally. She also misses the various Indian delicacies and the daily routine of sitting together with her family to eat dinner. In a fast paced country like the United States of America, people are unable to give enough time to their family. However, Mrs. Katdare has been able to keep her family united making sure that they have enough family time.
Valiant and courageous Mrs. Katdare has demolished the stereotypical notion of Indian women being the shadow of their husbands. Not only did she manage to establish herself as a software developer and gain an identity of her own but also tied her family together. Even though she had to leave the country because of her husband’s work commitments, she had the courage to follow her dreams. She made sure that she educated herself so that she could help her husband in providing for the family. In addition, she brought up her children in a way such that they were independent yet disciplined. Mrs. Katdare had the grit and confidence to live the ‘American Dream’ and deserve her due happiness and individuality. She found acceptance in her small community at Georgia and created a place for herself in a distant land. It is very difficult to find a new home but Mrs. Katdare had the courage to set out to seek a place that she could call home. Now after forty-eight years of living in the United States of America, she can proudly say, “I think, I made it”.