I recently received an email from the high school I graduated from requesting me to fill out a post-graduation survey. It contained this question:
What is your current work/school status?
God, I was so mad when I saw that. “Other”?! I felt like my experience, the past 4 months, were completely invalidated by a simple multiple-choice question (not to mention betrayed by the questions I thought I had mastered in school). To me, India is so much more real than college. It’s not just school, or a job, or an exchange program – it’s my life. “Other” doesn’t feel like an accurate description. I’m not sitting on my parents’ couch playing “Grand Theft Auto”; I’m trying to survive in a place where nothing is familiar. Where sometimes I can’t breathe because I’m so scared (also the air pollution probably contributes to the near asphyxiation). Where I laugh at rickshaws honking at me as I cross in front of them because 1) There is no easier or safer way to get from one side to the other and 2) I’m already across. And I’m not trying to discount college students or employed people or video game enthusiasts – they are living the life that makes them happy. I would just like to be recognized, too. I want people to see my reality as an option, to know that what I’m doing here is real and will help me in the future.