14th September, 2016

ORKUT FRIENDS TO MY FAMILY IN USA 

“We got introduced on Orkut, became friends on first meeting & left as a Family “

I have done my M.S. in Agribusiness Management from Arizona State University, USA. I stayed in Mesa ( a city of Arizona) for a year & another year in Tempe (Another city of Arizona). People always ask me, Pratibha how was your stay in USA ? Didn’t you miss your family there ? Did you get Indian food there & how about festivals ? You must have missed celebrating Diwali (Indian festival) & other festivals there ? I always reply them with a big smile saying , there is a long story behind my wonderful stay in USA, do you have time to listen to it ? And when they say YES, I tell them the story, which I am going to share with you all today. This story is very close to my heart & have shared it with  hundreds of people till date.

It started in year 2008. Eight years have gone by but its’ still feels like yesterday. I still remember the moment when I first met Priya Didi & Prasant bhaiya 🙂 Let me introduce them to you. They are my first family in USA. There is a very interesting story of who we met. 

It was the time,when I got my I-20 ( university admission letter ) of ASU. The campus was in Mesa. Everyone scared me saying, you won’t get any Indian food there, as Arizona is a desert & you better prepare yourself before leaving. A thought came to contact Indians at Mesa, to enquire about the weather & Mesa city in general. That was an Orkut Era 🙂 I searched Priya, Mesa in Orkut . Why only Priya ? Because Priya is one my best friend & we both were going to USA for our studies that year. 

A profile of Priya Kumar appeared with her wedding profile picture. It has been 8 years since that moment,but I still remember all the details 🙂  She was wearing  a beautiful red lehenga (Indian bridal dress) & was looking very pretty 🙂 I send her a friend request & to my surprise she accepted it the same day. I asked her about the weather there & other questions I had in my mind. To which, she replied very politely with every little details. I still had a month left to leave for USA at that time but I was super busy with shopping & packing and we hardly got any chance to chat after that. Before leaving , I messaged her & asked, Priya Didi- do you want me to bring anything for you from India ? She replied -Please bring some laddus ( Indian sweet) for me :). I replied  back, Sure 🙂 

My Dadi ( grandmother) has an expertise in making laddu & I asked her to make some for Priya didi. She packed two boxes for her & one for me 🙂 I reached my campus a week before the class started for the orientation. To my surprise, the whole campus & the hostel was empty & one could only see few students roaming around campus. You can imagine the situation, being in a new country, new campus & all alone in an International hostel. I was homesick, bored to death & didn’t know what to do. 

I messaged Priya didi on Orkut after 3-4 days saying, Hey.. I am here at Mesa & have brought your laddus with me 🙂 She replied saying , Great !! When can we come & pick them up. We exchanged contacts & addresses. She said, your campus is only ten minutes drive from our home, we will come today & pick them up.  

They came around 5 pm to my hostel room & rang the bell. When I opened the door, to my biggest surprise, an american white girl was standing there waving Hi Pratibha! Priya here !! and meet my husband Prashant. 

I was shocked & quiet for a minute, didn’t know how to react. I was not expecting her. I thought Priya didi to be an Indian girl with a look, I imagined with her profile picture.

I welcomed them inside my room. I told a bit about me & they introduced themselves. Priya didi shared that, she is an american girl , her real name is Mariam & Priya is her indian name. She married Prashant bhaiya that same year & they had a hindu wedding in India. That made the picture clear to me but I was still confused and bit uncomfortable. Prashnat bhiaya was very jolly & friendly in our first meeting. He was speaking Oriya ( my State language ) and shared that he had worked in Bhubaneswar ( Odisha’s capital)  for some time. That helped build my trust in them in our first meeting 🙂 

They invited me over their home for dinner & said let’s go Pratibha.. we will watch some hindi movie together & Priya will make some Indian food for us. I was skeptical, was confused whether, I should go or not but as shared, was alone in that campus for long and decided to go with them. 

We went to Bhibhuati Bhaiya’s house. Bhibhutai bhaiya is from Odisha & have been living in Mesa with her wife Madhu didi & two sons for years now. We took some hindi movie DVDs from him & headed over to Priya didi’s house. To add up to all the surprises, Priya didi made vegetarian Indian dinner for us & we watched a hindi movie together.They dropped me back around 9:30 PM.

On that day, I didn’t know that, this will be my home in USA for next two years & they will be my family forever 🙂 

This was just the beginning 🙂  Bhibhuati bhaiya & Prashant bhaiya are family friends and I didn’t know when I became a part of their family circle .We started meeting every weekend after that. I celebrated all the festivals with them. We used to go shopping together & slowly Madhu didi & Priya didi started shopping for me as a family.

I  didn’t know, when I had a room named, Guddo’s room in their house and started staying there on weekend 🙂 

I don’t have words to express my feeling & gratitude for the love, care & support they gave me . All I can say that, they are God’s most beautiful gift to me & I feel blessed to have meet them. They taught me, one doesn’t have to be blood to be family , loved me unconditionally, accepted me for what I was  & renewed my faith in humanity. I could have not survived United States of America without them. 

Thank You 🙂

I LOVE & MISS YOU ALL A LOT 🙂   

 

 

 

 

 

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