I have been wanting to write something about my return for a while, but each time, I find myself staring at a blank page. I recently returned from Austin, Texas to Chennai. I was there for only a year, yet it holds significant importance in my life.
I first landed in the U.S. in June 2022, with an L1-B Visa and a suitcase full of uncertainties. My perceptions of the U.S. were shaped by books, social media, and TV shows. It was unclear what I expected, but it turned out to be good.
My first few days were a haze of adjustments and missteps. I recall wandering into a grim part of Austin, where graffiti seemed like coded messages and the very air felt heavy with caution. Everything was delayed initially for reasons I didn’t understand. We didn’t get an apartment soon enough and everything dominoed from there.
Eventually, I moved from a nondescript hotel room into a house and things began to feel less transient. My trips to HEB and Desi Brothers on W Parmer became rituals. Stepping into HEB was like entering a labyrinth; a maze of endless possibilities. The kaleidoscopic fruit sections and the abundance of cereal brands made each visit a mini-adventure, full of choices.
I traveled across the U.S., from West Texas to NYC. Each place left an impression, but none held me. Traveling in the U.S. is hectic—I could write a whole essay about it.
Now why did I come back? There are a bunch of reasons. The Visa, L-1B, combines the worst of L-1A and H-1B. There is no flexibility in switching jobs, and the Green Card, I hear is the same long wait period as H1-B. I was also working exclusively with the India team at my company, so the timezone overlap became an issue.
But, if I had to be honest, an essay I wrote about Nietzsche’s “Last Man” was the main reason. It’s a concept that became a mirror, reflecting the life I saw unfolding around me in the U.S.—a monotonous treadmill of routine. Nietzsche dubbed them “The Last Men,” those too comfortable to chase bigger dreams. I refused to be one of them. I also wrote a fictional story about the ‘last man’-ness I saw in the US.
My decision to return was both simple and intricate. I’ve realized that choices shape reasons, not the other way around. When you are faced with choices, you already know what to do, you are just searching for the reasons to convince yourself. My return was an instinctive pull, undefinable but powerful. Will I find more success in India? I don’t know. All I know is that the U.S., with its immigration limitations, offers a capped future for me. My American dream is not to get a Green Card, that seems shallow to me. My American dream is to build something, start up. Ironic that I can’t do it in America, but let’s see if India can help me.