The car accident in Berkeley happened the first day I moved there. I had not yet slept a night in the house I was going to share with two other girls. Tom had spent the day painting the room for me. I liked bright colors and we had chosen a rusted orange for a wall. I came home after a mile walk from the bart station. I remember humming a song along the way. I remember watching my shadow. I remember the black backpack I carried. I put the bag down when I entered the apartment and smiled. Tom was listening to Bollywood music on my cd player. The room smelled of fresh paint. The mattress we had bought at Ikea on the ground. He offered to drop me to yoga class before heading out to a Buddhist class he was taking. We hadn’t moved in together yet. It was just a little over a month ago that we had met. I wanted to bicycle to yoga but my tires were flat. I changed and we left the house and turned a corner and in that moment as I turned to look at him, we were hit. I remember thinking as the sound of metal on metal crushed my breath out, ” I hope he is not hurt.”
Why do I remember that evening, this evening here in Pune? The children are playing after a pizza dinner and Tom is in a meeting with India. Every day that we are here, I am over taken by a surge of emotions and thoughts that I struggle to arrange and give voice to. It is but natural for me to turn my gaze backwards at America and the life we led. The contradictions in India are apparent and in my face. The contradictions in America more subtle and harder to decipher. On one hand is a country of immense wealth and yet getting medical care even with a health insurance is a challenge. I remember the day after the accident when Tom took me to the hospital and the numerous forms we had to fill, the questions we had to answer. I was not insured.The care in the hospital was perfunctory and for months afterwards, we struggled to find care. In many doctor’s offices, you will not get an appointment without a health insurance. This is in what is considered one of the most advanced countries in the world. Here, in India, we get medical care more easily. No doctor will ever refuse to see you. It is against the grain of this country and yet no system is yet in place for traffic to make way for desperate ambulances.
“How do you like it here?” I am often asked. I do not have a clear answer- yet.