My Inspiring Amazing Wonderfully Awesome Immigrant Story

fourth year dhanur sapolia

photo by stokes dunavan

photo by stokes dunavan

It’s been eleven years since I moved to America. Wow, it feels strange typing that. Not to sound cliché, but it doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I recently saw an old picture of me-I think I was about eight in it. I am sitting on a chair next to my mom, holding a medium-sized coke in my hand  (I remember the size, because it was about as big as my head). I remember wondering how and why any living thing would want to, or even be able to, consume such a large quantity of anything (I was a very thoughtful eight-year-old).

When I came across the picture again, I remembered how staged it was. My dad had told me and my mom to sit together outside the airport’s McDonalds and smile. We were all having our first experiences with jet-lag, and he was being a royal asshole, but we managed to pull off the best smiles we could. We ate at the McDonalds, because that was the only restaurant we recognized. Burger King sounded weird, and the Wendy’s logo terrified me (I later overcame this fear and have to say that Wendy’s has some dope-ass nuggets).

Even though the golden arches seemed familiar, the menu was strange. None of us had ever heard of a Big Mac before, but it was the first thing on the menu, so we all ordered it. It was amazing (this is not an ad for McDonalds, I promise). It was a strange meat that none of us had eaten before. That’s because it was beef. Beef, for those who don’t know, isn’t widely available in India because cows are sacred to Hindus. I remember the second we found out that we were eating beef, because my mom looked at both my dad and I and said: “Well we’ve already paid for it, so we might as well finish it.” The rest of the meal was depressingly delicious. By the time we had finished eating/sinning, it was about 6:30 a.m. in Atlanta. We walked out of the terminal with our four bags, which held all our belongings and hailed a cab. The ride to our hotel was bizarre. The roads were so nice-and by that, I mean that they were paved. Drivers were actually following road signs and adhering to traffic signals and stop lights.

We arrived at our hotel and stayed there for a week until my dad got his job set up. That week was the best and most misleading week of my life. Between the cable and room service, my days were spent downing junk food and watching Cartoon Network.

Obviously, the ‘honeymoon phase’ ended, and eventually everything normalized. Still, though, I think there’s a part of me that is exactly like that room service loving, Cartoon Network watching eight-year-old. So I decided to hang the picture, reminding my family and me where we came from, and more importantly, to never eat Big Macs again.