Unemployed Woman Forced To Live A Lie
Sukhraj Beasla is a successful 30-year-old, recently promoted at LaSalle Bank from trust manager to assistant vice president. At least that's what Beasla's parents' friends think, when her parents brag about their go-getting daughter at dinner or temple. At least that's what they thought until CNN published the truth: Beasia was laid-off in February 2009, and since then has been living close to the poverty line, babysitting, dog walking, tutoring, and selling her belongings on eBay for cash.
At first, Beasla's parents were understanding. But they decided to keep the news under wraps. The Indian community in the Los Angeles area can be very judgmental, says Beasla, when they hear that someone's kid has been laid off.
"They don't understand that you're a victim of the economy," she told AOL Jobs.
After some time, however, Beasla's parents became impatient. When Beasla, newly unemployed, launched her own social media business that struggled to get off the ground, her father had little sympathy. "'God, you're 30 years old and I really expected you to be somewhere right now,'" she remembers him saying.
And her parent's shame is all the more crushing when she has to play the fantasy version of their daughter at social events.
"I have to go there and tell them I was able to get my next promotion and that I'm on track and that there's no way the company would let me go because I'm such a valuable asset and all this bulls***," Beasla told CNN.
Today's massive youth unemployment has opened up some gaping generational rifts. Parents have to deal with kids returning home after college in record numbers, sending them links to job openings, chiding them to perhaps just try a little harder. On the other end, many young people have to stomach what they see as a degrading kind of dependence, having grown up with mighty expectations for their careers, and a robust sense of self-worth.
Life can be discouraging when, like Beasla, you send out 30 to 50 resumes a day with no bites, when Starbucks turns you down for being "overqualified," when you have to persuade your more cash-happy friends to forgo a bar for an evening at Dennys.
But lessons can often be gleaned from lows, and Beasla has found something of a passion in cooking-for-one on a budget. With potatoes, rice, canned soup, spices, a couple cookbooks for inspiration, and a lot of creativity, Beasla has been crafting some innovative meals, and blogging about it.
"I've discovered I have this real passion for food and it was born out of this unemployment phase," she told CNN. "I'm really enjoying talking about food and my journey through food. If I could, I would travel and write about food."
"Only men can go and travel and talk about food," Beasla pointed out. Adam Richman, Andrew Zimmern, Anthony Bourdain. "Why isn't there a woman's perspective?" she asks.
The fact that Beasla's parents were born and raised in India, with Indian values, makes this situation even harder. Traditionally, Indian culture places great value on education and success, and it's part of the standard immigrant story that children go on to do better than their parents.
Beasla isn't getting financial help from mom and dad. Her parents have suggested that she move back home, and she's been tempted in her low moments. But she knows the sacrifice would be too great.
"My parents are just so strict," Beasla says. When she goes out with her two siblings - both in their 20s - after a certain hour she'll get frantic calls. "If we stay out past eight, nine, 10 o'clock, they'll be like 'why aren't you guys home yet?'"
Beasla's brother and sister, one in college and the other a recent graduate, are both living at home. Occasionally they'll tell her how jealous they are of her lifestyle.
"Really?" she responds.
Beasla is scrimping and scrounging on her own, and long ago abandoned any pretentions about what kind of job she deserves. "Nothing is beneath me," she said. "I'm doing what I need to do to survive."
Beasla's perseverance in the face of minimal prospects and parental pressure struck a nerve with the American public. Beasia's inbox swelled up with supportive emails, and a human resource company in California contacted CNN, looking for her resume. The Indian community, on the other hand, hasn't been so positive.
"They're just upset that I was so out there and vocal and talking about them and talking about the fact that Indian people are so full of pride and don't care about their children," Beasla says.
"I never said Indian people didn't care about their children."
There's been no word yet from Beasla's parents. She's hoping they haven't discovered her online confession.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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