American Smiles

I am part of three countries: USA, India and Mexico. It is wonderful yet sometimes challenges my identity. Lately though, my heart isn’t in the USA, NYC to be precise. I feel like an outsider, an immigrant and even a refugee in my own country. The ways of this culture feel foreign to me. When I’m recently returned, as I am now from India, it’s natural for me to smile at a stranger in passing on the street.  Mostly people look the other way and I end up feeling foolish. I don’t want to lose the joy and friendliness that I experience while walking the streets in India and Mexico where smiles are shared and  greetings like namaste and hola are customary, even amongst strangers.  I am saddened by this.

I know every one is busy and preoccupied but a simple smile? It reinforces our connection. Is it not human nature to want to smile at each other? Is every one so busy texting that they can’t look up and into someone’s eyes? I fear for us as a country and as a city. Clearly most people desperately want to feel connected or they wouldn’t be texting all the time yet when presented with the opportunity to smile at a stranger they are disoriented by it.

Perhaps after a few more weeks here, I, too, won’t even notice that I’ve stopped smiling.  I’ll be another immigrant trying to make it in America not sure where home is or where my loyalty is. For now, I’m just another New Yorker that you’ll dismiss on the street, wondering why she’s smiling at you.


About ninagrandiose

I am based in NYC but travel regularly to India and Mexico. Both of these countries feel like home. In India I scour the country in search of fabulous textiles to incorporate into my clothing designs. I sit back and let the ambiance and wonder of India seep into my consciousness so I can be inspired to write about what India is for me. I bring a limited number of people to India on exclusive and intimate tours of my favorite hangouts. In Mexico I take in the natural beauty that surrounds me and dance the night away. I constantly give thanks for all this and am pleased to share it all with you.
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3 Responses to American Smiles

  1. Robin says:

    Keep smiling and do what you can. Follow a mantra all people are created equal. Be positive allowing your comparisons to other cultures give you insight to be peaceful within and smile without. Take a deep breath…I do yoga…lol

    Good to read your blog.

    Your distant and close you thought cousin.

    • ninagrandiose says:

      Good advice, Robin. Coming back from India seems to re-enforce in me a certain alienation and cultural confusion. Of course, I know how fortunate I am to be part of three unique countries and to be completely at home in all of them. The pain of leaving India often feels similar to leaving one’s beloved behind and nothing quite equals that loving embrace.

      • Robin says:

        Being homesick makes me think of Switzerland and the Alps which is my 2nd home 1/2 the year. I see you love India very much as do many of my friends and acquaintances. I am hopeful to travel there one day perhaps when you are there so you would teach me all about India’s loving embrace. Yes, we are fortunate to have many opportunities. I do love your photos as well as your writing style.

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