When you have been away from homeland too long, you get to learn yourself better. You discover those aspects of your personality that you never thought you possessed. Then you realise, may be you did, but these feelings were hibernating while you were busy taking things in homeland for granted.
Unexpected things and random experiences are known to trigger a wave of nostalgia, taking you down the memory lane, making you teary-eyed and happy at the same time. One thought leads to another, and before long, you are lost in the awesomeness that is homeland. Time seems to slow down while you walk through this beautiful garden of memories. A small smile plays on your lips, much to the wonderment of your co-workers. When asked what you are smiling about, you say ‘nothing’. How do you explain to them what brought the smile on? It’s hard. They wouldn’t understand. They haven’t had common experiences growing up with you. They are not on the same page. And you are in too happy a space to even bother explaining them.
How do you explain endless hours spent playing lagori, shaakli, chupa-chupi, langdi?
How do you explain the joy you felt on enjoying the coolness of kalakhatta, orange or keri flavoured gola on your lips on a sweltering hot summer day?
How do you explain the fun you had playing holi, pelting water balloons on random people?
How do you explain what’s all the fuss about Pani-puri?
How do you explain DDLJ, Hum Aapke Hain Kauna and the likes have been an important part of you growing up? How do you explain you miss drama sometimes?
How do you explain what’s the deal about maa ke haath ka gaajar ka halwa?
How do you explain those many fun-filled moments you have shared with your cousins, or for that matter even your mama, mami, kaka, kaki, mausa, mausi, bua, nana, nani, dada, dadi? Heck, we don’t even have English words for these uncles and aunties. In Pardes, you realise how impersonal English language really is, you crave to talk in your mother tongue. You try filling the hole by watching Bollywood movies. Bollywood movies remain your closest connection to India. Every once in a while you feel a strong desire to watch some classic movie for the nth time, just so you could relive those memories. Just so that you could take the cheapest ticket back to India for a wee-while. Just for a while, you want to be transported back to India.
In a foreign country, you are constantly battling feelings of ‘neither here’ & ‘nor there’. There are days when you feel like giving it all up and heading straight home. Damn career, Damn pardes.
It’s then when you learn to acknowledge how big a part India is of you. You can take an Indian out of India, but you can’t take India out of an Indian. So true that.
The good thing is you learn to value your roots a lot more. You learn a great deal about yourself. You have plenty of opportunities to pause and reflect. You feel like you have grown years wiser in a small time. You learn new perspectives, you become more flexible. You become more aware of differences in people around you. As much as I have seen, heard or read, I can say every Indian settling abroad inadvertently goes through this unique, one-of-its-kind tug-of-war. Every one feels homesick once the novelty wears off. Because culture, traditions and way of life in India are nothing like in any other countries. There is a whole world within India itself, and it is difficult to explain this “Indianness” to a non-Indian.
All my friends gearing up for a new life outside India; be ready to be challenged. Be ready to unlearn and be ready to learn. All the best.