I work for a small company in Washington D.C which provides geographic information system (GIS) services to clients. When I joined this firm in 2002, they had roughly 100 employees. Now we’re down to the bare minimum. I like to think I’m not someone they can do without but the tension is eating me up.
Over the last couple of months, I am seeing how the economic spiral is affecting small shops like mine too. Long standing clients don’t want to renew contracts with us, they say they don’t have the cash. This attitude is new, it’s not the America of plenty that I’ve known for so long. Friends ask me why I don’t move on. My answer is that I’m stuck.
I’ve applied for a green card through this company I work for, and that serpentine process has already come a long way. If I quit this company, it will be difficult for me to find another job in the present climate. What’s worse is that I’ll have to file for my green card from scratch and I don’t have the energy to do that. It’s happened to me once and I’m not willing to go through that again. This was in 2002 when my green card was almost through and the company I worked for closed down. At least then, I found a job quickly but these times are different and my personal priorities at stake. My parents in Mumbai are keen to see me married. They keep saying “sab log tumhaare aage nikal gaye hain beta,” and I am at pains to explain that my circumstances are different. In times like these, marriage proposals take a big hit. People back home know the US economy is taking a beating and are nervous about prospective Indian American son-in-laws.
Yet, I’m not planning to give this all up and go back to India. I’m out of touch with life there. I’m not your regular techie who’s here on an H1B visa; I came to the US more than 12 years ago. I’ve spent almost half my life here. I graduated here in electrical engineering and then studied for a masters degree in information systems. I love the quality of life and freedom that America gives me. All my friends are here, my brother is here too, I understand life and work in the American context and can make it work for me. Until I get a better job or my green card comes through, I’ll continue to find escape in Indian films, music and bhujia from the peace of my bachelor pad in Maryland.