American Dream/Desi Consulting
As the air hostess handed over the immigration forms, Rajat felt a daze from the blood rushing to his head. His dream was coming true, at last.
Ever since he had gotten into engineering and heard all those stories of Indians going to America to live out their american dream, he had had only one goal in life.
Rajat wanted to live in America. He wanted to bathe in american water. He wanted to eat american eggs and drink american milk. He wanted to work in America.
He got that golden chance two years into his job with one of the leading consulting firms. Once he lost out on that onsite opportunity, there was only one way out.
Rajat found a consultant who would file for his H1 visa. Once that came through, he would go to the US, and be assigned to work on a project for some fortune 500 client.
This was too good to be true. He paid $2000 towards the visa filing fee, and another $2000 as a deposit to the consultant, just as security that he wouldn’t chuck the consultant as soon as he landed on the hallowed shores.
Luck was on Rajat’s side. He got the visa.
With bravado unusual for him, he bragged about his plans to friends and colleagues, and virtually spit in the face of his supervisor while resigning his job.
He didn’t mind burning this bridge. He was never coming back.
You and your stupid Indian consulting business. I am a big game player now. I have wasted enough time working with morons. This is going to be the big break i need and deserve.
He had it all planned out. In a few years he would have made a bag full of money. Once he had enough (how much was enough was not clearly defined) he would find a nice Indian girl and get married. Soon they would buy a house with his stockpile of cash. The parents will come over. They will have a few kids, and a couple of cars. Life will be fun.
Bye Bye India.
He was ready to live the big life. He was ready to make the moolah. He was ready to conquer America.
The flight landed at JFK. The first gust of american air felt like magic on his stubbled face. Rajat was already in love.
Immigration, Customs, a huge and complicated airport, and four hours later, Rajat reached the address that the consultant had given him.
As he got off the cab in the shady Jersey City neighborhood, Rajat had a severe sense of foreboding. This did not seem like the America they showed in movies. This looked more like downtown chandni chowk.
The apartment. Two bedrooms, two bathrooms. Shared by six guys. There were people all over each other.
Ahh..what the hell. This must be busy season. This is just temporary accommodation for a few days.
The temporary phase eventually didn’t turn out to be that short term. Rajat stayed in the apartment for a month, and his co-inmates made him realize that he was not in the special place in life he thought he was.
Every year thousands like him got hired by those body shoppers and dumped in these dungeons till they became productive and started bringing in money for the consultant.
It was one big industry. There were the companies who needed to outsource work to consultants. Then there were primary vendors who were responsible for providing these people to the client companies. These primary vendors in turn got their people from secondary vendors, who could be getting people from another consultant, and so on.
It was one big messed up food chain and Rajat was at the very bottom. He was of no use to anybody till he got a client project, and with the dwindling economy, competition was tough and projects hard to come by.
There wasn’t going to be much dignity in this american dream. He would stay in this apartment with six other people for now, and live at the mercy of the consultant who had, by the way, kept his original papers, as added safety. They knew their game. Rajat wasn’t their first.
This was slave trade. The modern version.