TODAY -

US Sojourn
- Part 3 -

By Yumnam Rupachandra *


But I am going to digress a little here and talk about the Manipuri Diaspora in US.

Manipuri Diaspora : Let me start with Thoudangngambi and her husband Bikram whom I met at Miami, Florida at the fag end of my tour of USA. Thoudangambi, one who can accomplish her duty true to her name made her dream to make US her country of profession come true.

From a non-descript village of Keirak in Thoubal district to Miami seafront apartment it has been a journey of self discovery for this gutsy girl. She came to US some 4 years ago as a nurse much against the wishes of her parents. It is understandable-a lone girl, aspiring to fly half way round the world to US can be any parents' concern.

But she had her fiancee-Bikram, now her husband - support. Together they now make Miami their home. Bikram works as a manager in a popular pharmacy chain, has a swank car and they are expecting their first child. The duo has adjusted themselves to the lives in US-but don't they miss Manipuri food ?

"Everything is available here, Tamo," Thoudangambi said. To prove their point the duo treated me to a dinner with iromba at their apartment. A little later Bikram sits down with his computer and logs on to www.e-pao.net and other Manipuri local daily web sites. 'This is how we keep in touch with Manipur. We know of all the killings that are taking place back in Manipur' he said.

Thoudangambi and Bikram are not the only couple from Manipur who have made US their home and place of work. Hijam Bobo alias Bob to friends and his sweet wife Hemabati is another couple in the US east coast.

There are other couples, I am told, especially in New York but my short trip did not allow me to meet more of them. Bob, born to Hijam Achou Singh (Redt Addl Chief Engineer of PWD ) and home maker Hijam ongbi Shama has made it big in the banking world-he is one of the Vice Presidents of UK based HSBC bank and is currently in charge of South Asia region.

But it is something-his position, he tries hard to play down. He does not make a bone of it. He lives in Baltimore where he has purchased his own house and commutes to DC where he has an office. He is from Thangmeiband and is elder brother of Hijam Rajesh, Editor of English version of The Sangai Express. Bob has two kids, born in US and his wife an architect has taken a Sabbath from her profession to look after their two kids.

A little bit about Bob's life here to drive home a point-hope you won't mind, Bob. I took time out from my heavy schedule and Bob on his way back from office picked me up from a street corner in Baltimore. I had just met the controversial Dr Robert Gallow, who at that point of time was hoping for a Nobel Prize for discovery of HIV. Even-tually though, he was left out (that is another story).

It was weekend and some Manipuris from nearby are gathering in his house. This, I am told is how they keep in touch with their roots. They usually have traditional meals on these gatherings. With me as guest they were throwing in a special Yongchak iromba. After a few days of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches I was really looking forward to a mouth stinging iromba.

The first thing Bob did on arrival at his house, at an upscale housing colony, was to take out the garbage and he shrugs-man this is how we do it here. This, he said was his ritual and he was cool about it. Out here we talk a lot about dignity of a labour-but the truth is not many of us actually practice.

How many of us here take out our own garbage? That should put things in perspective. In fact an MLA who spoke on dignity of labour in one of the meetings I attended here when I asked if he could show by example-like taking a bicycle to Assembly, was just noncommittal.

Out there people practice-here we preach. That's the point Bob. Keep the ritual up.

to be continued......



* Yumnam Rupachandra wrote this article for The Sangai Express .
This article was webcasted at e-pao.net on 10th April 2009.


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