Sensory overload – the irony!

I grew up here. I’ve lived in this country for 21 years. Raised in a somewhat orthodox Hindu middle class family, but extremely liberal in really weird ways. Explanation of that phrase for some other day!! For now, all you need to know is that I was Indian in every way possible. 10 years later this place overwhelms me. Too much sound. Too many people. Too many colors. The noise, the stray dogs, the smoke, the air … it kills me. There’s like a 100 sign boards, advertisements in every 10 ft. or something. I feel bad. Really bad. I used to bitch and moan about these types just a few years ago. The US returns – we used to call them. Guess  who just turned into one!!! It’s funny being on this side of the argument. How do I explain to someone that it’s not snobbery … I’m not being snooty. I am unable to handle the sensory overload.

This morning I met a neighbor who was soooo wonderful. She walked over and introduced herself, she’s a native Bangalorean .. and offered to help in anyway possible. All I could do was stand there smile at her and say thank you at the end of the conversation. I don’t know what happened in the 5 mins between the Hi and the Bye. My husband, funnily enough, kept up. He’s usually known as the quiet one. He responded .. there was a conversation between them. I just stood there waiting politely for my turn to talk. And by the time I was ready to say something, the conversation was over. “What happened?!” I asked my husband, who was like “why were you just standing there like that?” I broke down and cried. I couldn’t follow everything she said. I had trouble tracking what she was saying – she was speaking too fast for me to process.

For anyone that knows me and is reading this blog … this is probably a joke, or the funniest irony they’ve heard of. For those of you that don’t know me – I am loud, talk nonstop, laugh a lot and I’ve been told by my mates in the US – I’m hard to keep up with and I overwhelm people with how much I have to say and express (facially). So surely you can imagine what this situation made me feel. I have no idea what is going on or why I am finding myself in the shoes of all my friends and acquaintances in the US ..

Officially … I cannot follow, comprehend, process or react. There is just too much around me. Sensory overload. My eyes hurt. My ears just shut off. I have to hide. Quickly. (Now I know how many of my friends and colleagues back home in California felt  .. I understand it now. Funny that I should learn this lesson after I left the country. And thankful that I had a chance to be on the other side of this experience.) I am not judging this world around me. Everyone seems so happy, so fun, so nice, so helpful … I am merely confused about my reaction here. I thought I would fit in like no other. I thought my husband was going to need help. Apparently I got this thing all mixed up. I’m experiencing sensory overload – seems like the joke’s on me!!

The image here is an example of things I find to comfort myself — a sign opposite my apartment community “CALL 2 KILL”. I just barely noticed later that it was referring to pests!! Homes everywhere have signs .. advertisements … visual noise. But some make me smile 🙂

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