Ritcha Chaudry: “I can sit on my deck, and I can look out and see fireflies in my yard.”
Ritcha Chaudry spoke with the Missouri on Mic team at a Diwali celebration on the University of Missouri campus in November. Diwali is a five-day festival of lights, and one of the most important holidays in India.
She spoke about her love for nature in Missouri – especially its quiet nighttime beauty.
Missouri On Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.
Ritcha Chaudry: I love Missouri, although I would say that I'm a big city person. I grew up in Delhi, which is bigger than New York City. So, getting adjusted to a smaller town was a bit hard.
But now I've been here such a long time that I have fallen in love with this place. I love the peace and the quiet and the greenery.
I think my favorite part of living here in Missouri – especially in Colombia – is that I can sit on my deck, and I can look out and see fireflies in my yard at a certain time of the year.
And I think my favorite place… so, recently, I was in Utah, and we were looking at dark zones. We went to a national park to look for some dark zones.
And I was thinking actually – the other day on my deck – that in the middle of the night, “I know that at least 15 years ago, when my area where I live wasn't built up too much, I could stand there and find the Milky Way.” So, that's my favorite part.
Even now, I think on a very clear night when all the lights are off, I feel it's almost like a dark zone, and I don't really have to go anywhere to really find a dark zone and I love to see the sky. The air so clean.
So, I think what I like about Missouri is the fact that people are very down to earth, and I have been here and, at least, I know that I feel people very welcoming.
"Usually I have huge parties, but I am still sort of reluctant. So, I'm going to wait and see – hopefully by next year it will all be back to normal. That's my hope."
At least in my experience I have not encountered – I lived in the South in the US for a long time – so, from that vantage point, I would say that I haven't experienced any discrimination per se, which I thought I did when I lived in the South.
So, this is what I love about Missouri – that people are so helpful, so open, down to earth, and that's my favorite part about living in Missouri. Apart from the fact that it's beautiful.
The national landscape is awesome, and I honestly love living in Columbia, Missouri. It's a small town with all the big town amenities, and I love the festivals and the programs the University brings to the town.
So, I think I just love living here.
So, after two years of the pandemic, not much happening – I mean I think I've enjoyed family time and me time – but, you know, human beings are social people.
So, I think it was really nice to actually come to this event today here at Mizzou, and I know that another organization in Mizzou, which is known as the Cultural Association of India also had their India night, which is a dance program.
So, I'm glad that we are so coming back to pre-pandemic times. Not quite there, but yeah…
Other than that, I had a quiet celebration at my home. Usually I have huge parties, but I am still sort of reluctant. So, I'm going to wait and see – hopefully by next year it will all be back to normal. That's my hope.