The Young Indian Scientist’s Dilemma (1966)

(From an old essay of R.K.Narayan’s — from 1966. Not sure where it was published. I find some of the word choices strange. Hard to believe he could be so tone deaf.)


 A young scientist from Madras, who arrived in New York only a week before, met me at my hostel and introduced himself as one longing to hear an Indian voice. He confessed that he found life in America unbearable. He could not make out a word of what his MASTERS (???) or anyone said; he had difficulty making himself understood and felt harassed by everyone from his grocer upward demanding, “Say it again.” He said every morning he was on the verge of booking an air passage home.

 I knew he would get over his homesickness. I had known only two instances where they acted on the homesick impulse. A young student returned home within a week of his arrival in Michigan and another one going to Colorado returned home after spending a month in a hospital following a severe mental breakdown.

 I met the young scientist from Madras again, two years later at New York. He was now completely organized. He shared an apartment uptown with a few others, cooked his food, left for his lab before 7.30 in any weather every morning and worked till 4 PM. His professor liked his outlook and supported his research plans. Of course, he felt terribly lonely at times, but drew sustenance from the fortnightly reports from home and treasured all the information contained in them.