We were pleasantly surprised to meet our new tax consultant last night – an elderly South Indian gentleman we would have expected to meet at the local Indian temple or grocery store, definitely not at the other side of the table at the friendly all-American tax consulting firm in the neighborhood. Especially since the gentleman’s name ‘Kashi’ was confidently pronounced as ‘Casey’ by the receptionist making our appointment!
When two Indians meet in the US, we tend to lapse into our familiar Indian mode of conversation, talking about our state of origin and family background back home in India, how long and why we’ve been here etc. Imagine our further disbelief when in the course of these customary introductions, the man announced he was eighty years old!
Since when was he here, we asked? ‘Twenty years’, was the reply. So was he a Chartered Accountant or tax consultant in India before coming to the US, we politely enquired. The man seemed visibly disturbed by the question. ‘No, I was in the IAS, I’ve been a Collector in various districts in Maharashtra’, he clarified. IAS? Collector? How did such a person land up becoming a tax consultant in the US, we wondered, but were too polite to ask.
Our questions were answered without being asked though. ‘I came here to be with my daughter after my retirement’. But my wife and I did not want to live on social security, and neither did we want to impose on my daughter and her family. So I took a few courses and became a tax consultant and have been working here for the past twenty years now’, he explained.
How wonderful! A 60 year-old moving to a new country to be with his children but still wanting to be self-reliant, a person retiring at the peak of his professional career only to take up and master an entirely new profession at an age when most people would be content to rest on their past laurels, an elderly gentleman from a conservative society seamlessly blending into a new culture rather than bemoaning its lack of values from the comfortable cocoon of home – how wonderful indeed!