This day is one of the most important days of my life. But not because it’s National Relaxation Day in the US. Everyday is a relaxation day for me, anyway.
I know that Aug 15th is publicly celebrated across India as “Independence Day” but that, to my mind, is totally idiotic because Indians are not independent even 75 years after India became “independent” of colonial rule. Indians are still under colonial rule — the difference is that instead of foreign colonial rule, now the rule is by domestic colonial rulers. This is actually worse than what it was before 1947. At least the Britishers were foreigners. But now Indians oppress their own. They enslave their own. Pitiable.
Anyway, I celebrate Aug 15th for an entirely different reason. It is one of the happiest days of my life.
It’s the day that I began my journey to the land of the free. Many decades ago, I left India on Aug 15th, and arrived at JFK around 4 PM on Aug 15th. I have vivid memories of that day: the flight from Delhi, the day-long layover at Amsterdam, the drive through Manhattan (particularly 42nd Street), crossing the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge, the first time on the New Jersey Turnpike, then dinner at a diner in New Jersey, etc.
I particularly enjoyed the drive on the New Jersey turnpike bit because I had loved the song “America” by Simon and Garfunkel for years. “Counting the cars on the New Jersey turnpike …”
I came to the US for the ostensible reason of doing my doctoral work in computer science at Rutgers University. But that was just an excuse. Computer science was interesting but not singularly so. It was just another academic discipline that I found interesting. I just did not know any better. Many years later I realized that I was actually an economist.
In a couple of years, I ditched my CS studies and moved to the San Francisco bay area to start my career at HP in Cupertino, CA. I eventually left HP after nearly a decade, and wandered around the world for five years. And then realized that I had to study economics if I was to understand how the world works. I got to UC Berkeley and finally wrote a PhD thesis in economics.
My training was in neoclassical economics. It took a few more years before I understood that I was actually an Austrian economist. It was a long journey but finally I was home. Being lost for so many years was worth the coming home, as Neil Diamond sang.
So now two songs. First, S&G’s America. Some bits of lyrics:
So I looked at the scenery
She read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field
“Kathy, I’m lost”, I said
Though I knew she was sleeping
“I’m empty and aching and
I don’t know why”
Counting the cars
On the New Jersey Turnpike
They’ve all come
To look for America
All come to look for America
All come to look for America
The next song is Neil Diamond’s Stones.
“Lordy child, a good day’s coming, and I’ll be there to let the sun in, and being lost is worth the coming home …”
Have a happy National Relaxation Day.