Vivek never really felt at home in Delhi.
Weird, he spent his entire life there – in fact he didn’t know anything else, but nonetheless, some part of his soul longed for a next place.
A next city.
A next city where he knew he would be, soon.
The application process was tricky and very tedious.
Too many before Vivek had scammed the system and he now had to deal with the consequences of tougher immigration laws to Canada.
Vivek recalled the day when he went down with his parents and younger brother to the embassy to submit their immigration application.
The process was somewhat dehumanising & left him feeling like an animal being appraised for purchase.
Vivek shuddered at the thought of being carefully examined by a passive old doctor with eyes of complete indifference.
Standing naked & cold in front of him was humiliating.
The embassy was really stylish, clean and most importantly very organised and not so densely filled. Walking out from it onto the streets of Delhi reminded Vivek why he was putting himself through this humiliation.
This country is doomed, Vivek thought.
Corruption of everyone at every level – from the president to the street cleaner, all belonged to a ‘system’ which rewarded short cuts.
There was no conspiracy Vivek thought.
All those videos about the illuminati on youtube.
Yea right. As if a bunch of white people sitting at a leather covered table in a room filled with cigar smoke and expensive whiskey were required to turn India into what it was.
Vivek looked at a beggar that sat on the floor on the corner of the street next to a chai shop.
This beggar, Vivek thought, would behave exactly the same way that the president does should they swap seats tomorrow.
Here he is, doing his best to attract the attention of passersby to give him whatever they could – but Vivek was beyond certain of one thing, if a million dollars somehow fell into the lap of this beggar, he would instantly buy a ferrari and ignore all street beggars, not giving them a rupee.
Vivek was no patriot, he was a realist.
The reality was though, Indian people were first and foremost ‘people’ and simply displayed typical characteristics of ‘people’, with the only difference being that once you have over a billion people, the dynamics change.
The accepted level of ‘cleanliness’ or doing something towards ‘a common good’ were notions that couldn’t exist with such a competition for the survival. The rules of the jungle.
Every man for himself.
Ironically enough, having such a population was reason to increase the level ‘organisation’ of society in order to deal with it better. If you live in a 3 bedroom apartment alone, you can afford to not optimize your day to day existence. When you have 33 of you in the same apartment, you really do.
And finally Vivek thought, the idea of having the poorest people living in a slum not more than a 100 metres from the most luxurious high rises populated by billionaires.
The distribution of wealth in this country is unparalleled.
It was disgusting.
He never wanted to leave more badly.
“Your name sir?” asked the Burly white man with curly ginger hair on his thick forearms?
This was the only interaction between Vivek and the CIS offer who was reviewing his documents for landing in over 10 minutes.
“Why is he asking my name? He has all my ID’s in front him.” Thought Vivek to himsef.
It was really cold, even in the building.
While approaching the landing strip, Vivek looked over this enormous and foreign land which looked very hostile, cold and empty.
It looked like the scene from a futuristic movie where humans no longer lived on earth.
“Where do you plan to live sir?” woke him up from his self reflection.
“One second sir…220 Burnhamthore Rd Sir”.
“Sir…I am not sure what that is… is that the mailbox number? If so, I don’t know it.”.
The guard looked up at him from the paperwork in front of him and gave him a little smirky smile.
As Vivek took his first step into the Canadian air, he was horrified.
It was freezing.
Literally, he felt pain shoot down his boat and instantly felt his nose & ears go numb.
“Fuck” he uttered under his breath and took out his phone to call his 3rd cousins friend who had agreed to help him out and help him settle in.
“Rup”. That was his name.
Now obviously, no Indian gets born as ‘Rup’, but Rupinder seemed to have little association with his genetic code.
It was quite weird. 1000’s of years of habitat specific evolution & biology had gone into ‘Rupinder’, which was overwritten by 5 years abroad and a piece of paper.
The change was significant though. Rup truly was Rup and had very little to do with Rupinder. His ‘hardware’ was of ‘Rupinder’, but the software had been reinstalled.
The first drive from the airport felt like a psychedelic trip for Vivek, although its not like he knew what that felt like.
He was lost in every way imaginable.
The climate was different.
The time zone was different.
The people. The architecture. Even the soil itself looked different.
He was so lost.
He was scared now. The magnitude of what he was about to undergo had truly sunk in with an enormous.
He had left everything he knew behind – his family, his friends, his country, his job, his neighbours, his ‘entire network’ and all his possessions (not too many).
Everything looked grey. Most of the people he would see looked shrivelled up from the cold and looked miserable and late to some next place they had to be.
“This is it?!” he thought to himself? “This?”.
The pictures online & the stories he had herd from friends did not look like this.
He felt like he was scammed and suddenly the thought of a crowded and dirty Indian street with the commotion and the life didn’t seem so bad.
“So buddy, how does it feel to be a part of the 1st world”? asked Rup, with a Canadian/American sounding accent that was interlaced very clearly with certain vowels the pronunciation of which was clearly Indian.
Vivek looked at him and really didn’t want to share what he was truly thinking.
“Bohaad acha bhai”, (very good brother) and put on a smile.
Rup totally ignored the hindi and continued the small talk in English.
Vivek went to sleep with a very deep seater sense of discomfort, his world was turned upside down.
In fact, the old Vivek died somewhere between when the flight took off and landed and was replaced by a new person – a brand new person who would have to create his identity still. But what identity?
“So what is your name?”.
“Just call me Vinny”.
“Nice! Glad to meet you Vinny, my name is James, I’ll be your supervisor, and you are directly accountable to me”, said the balding but young man with clear signs of a brutal hangover and a lack of sleep.
Vivek looked down at the machine in front of him. It looked cold & dangerous. It looked like a torture machine, made especially for him.
“Thanks James, I’ll get started right away”.
James nodded & walked away.
Viveks dreams of having his accounting degree ‘transferred’ or made valid did not work. Most employers refused to give him a job based on a bachelor of ‘Business Administration’ from the University of Kerala where he had moved to get the education and no Canadian experience.
All those nights spent cramming for the hardest exams of his life.
The education & skills which he spent 5 years studying and for which he literally gave away a part of his health was no worthless.
He was now a welder. In fact, he was a welder of the lowest category, earning barely more than minimum wage.
Just thinking that was painful and Vivek nearly choked on the lump in his throat.
“Vinny”. Vivek said it out loud.
From now on Vivek, would always be Vinny.
Note: this is a completely fictional story without any relevance to any real people or events.