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Hafa Adai, from where America’s day begins

The verdict is in, and I am guilty. Guilty for not e-mailing people back home. Guilty for not blogging. And guilty for not bringing you along with me to this marvelous speck of an island at the edge of the world.

I’m sorry. I’ve been enjoying myself too much, but now that the excitement of the first month has died down, I’m ready to share it with you.

Guam is an island that’s about 30 miles long and 4 miles across at its narrowest point. It is made up of villages, not cities. There are about 19 total across the island, and for the first month I was living in Tumon, in the central part of the island which is known as the hot tourist spot. Tumon Bay is lined with hotels, restaurants, all the major designer stores like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tiffany’s, which are all part of the Duty Free Shopping plaza.

But now I live in Agana Heights, smack-dab in the middle of the island, and if I roll out of bed and trip over I’ll be at my workplace. Pretty convenient. (Hagåtña and Agana are the same thing, except when the Spanish colonized the island, they couldn’t pronounce Hagåtña. Now it has switched back to Hagatna).

That’s the nice thing about the island. Most of the time, anywhere you need to go is only about 15 minutes away anyway, unless you’re going very far south to Inarajan  or Merizo, or very far north to Yigo or the Andersen Air Force Base.

I cannot stress enough just how friendly the people are. When I was on the plane flying from Tokyo to Guam, I met one Chamorro family who told me about the island’s weekly fiestas and how people are always willing to help you. Now I see what they mean.

Before I got here, I imagined there would a heavy Japanese presence, but now I see it’s mainly Filipinos and locals—Chamorro.  I’ve had the chance to meet so many different people it’s insane. I made friends here within just the first two days because people are so open and my friend from work took me to a barbecue the day that I landed. They’re REALLY big on barbecues here (sucks for me as a vegetarian). The couple who hosted the barbecue invited me to their wedding which was two weeks ago. I believe they’d put me on their guest list as “that Indian girl.”

….I’ve only known them about three weeks, but I guess that’s ok since they’d only been dating for four months—

—Things move fast here, because people are so used to just coming here a short while and leaving again, due to the widespread military presence. Friendships happen immediately. The locals get married and have children sooner than would be expected on the mainland, at least from what I’ve noticed.  But after living in a college town all of my life, it’s refreshing to finally ask the people I meet “What do you do?” instead of  “What is your major?”

One gripe I have here is that no no one understands the importance of customer service. Guam is just one of those places where people take their own sweet time. If they don’t have the ingredients for something at a restaurant, oh well. So while they are friendly—they are  laid back. Must just be the island culture. No one goes out of their way when it comes to customer service, which is interesting, since recruiters from hotels at last week’s island job fair said that’s what they look for in employees, especially since more openings are in food and beverage services.

It drives me nuts, but I’m slowly getting used to it.

I thought when I got here I would be the only Indian in Guam. Well, the e-mails and phone calls I’ve gotten from aunties and uncles on the island proves to me that there is an entire community that has lived here for decades before I landed. I had the chance to go to their “temple” two weeks ago. It’s not really a temple per se, but more like a cultural community center. Most of the major murthis are there: Shiva/Parvati, Vishnu/Lakshmi, Ram/Sita/Hanuman, Saraswati/Lakshmi/Parvati, Krishna/Radha…so basically there’s something to suit the needs of everyone, regardless of sect. But primarily the center has served as a hall for Sai Baba devotees, and outside, there is a small pavilion which houses a Shiva lingam.

When I took up the new position I was excited about the adventures Guam would bring, but naturally nervous about the distance away from home. The recent discovery of a Hindu temple here has made me see this differently:

Something has pulled me here for a reason. That same force will protect and propel me forward.

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1 comment on “Hafa Adai, from where America’s day begins

  1. Wow Amu … you are obviously having an experience of a lifetime. You will never forget these amazing stories and I can see you growing on a daily basis. I am so proud of you and I happy to see you are havnig a great time. Now I just have to visit you! 🙂

    Like

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