Sunday, July 30, 2006

Random Thought: Home Is Where Heart Is

The older you grow, the more your mind returns to the lost years of childhood. And the farther you go from the place you grew up in, and the longer you stay away, the more your heart yearns to return. The return might not be feasible or practical in reality, but the yearning is always there: Someday, I shall go back...

I am not saying this out of experience because I have never lived outside India long enough to crave for the sights and sounds and smells of my city -- even the traffic smoke and the noise. That way, India has unique sights, sounds and smells -- you can never mistake it for another country. Surfing channels, when you come across a Hindi or Tamil movie, you can instantly tell -- from the look of the screen -- whether it is from the 70's/80's or the present day. Similarly, if you catch a glimpse of India on a BBC documentary, you will never for a moment confuse it with Brazil or Pakistan even though the people look alike. That's the magic of India.

Anyway, back to the yearning. You can see it all over blogosphere. People living abroad -- in the US, in the UK, in the Southeast -- for months, for years, for decades, for generations, and yet in their private, non-working moments they are like the poet pining for his love. They are the people who, I think, love India with their heart and not their lips. And they do so because you can truly appreciate the value of something once you are away from it. That is why they get more agitated -- and active -- every time something hits India. People who aroused public opinion online in the aftermath of the Mumbai blasts were people living abroad. Indians living here, on the other hand, do nothing but to whine and blame 'the government' for every single thing except, maybe, erectile dysfunction.

It is heartening to see the interest NRI bloggers show in their roots: looked at from their eyes, India is not a bad country at all. And it isn't, believe me. But what is most heartening is to see the writings of Tamil NRI bloggers: it is as if they were never away. They are the electrons; while Madras is the nucleus. The electron always wants to merge with the nucleus and that's why it keeps rotating around the nucleus. And so the Tamilian, even if 13 hours away in time zone, keeps hovering around Madras. Culture is the invisible umbilical cord that is never snapped.

One doesn't have to cross oceans to feel the pull of the nucleus. I grew up by the Ganges in Kanpur, where I spent the initial 23 years of my life. In those 23 years, I must have been to the Ganga (as the river is popularly known) not even 23 times! -- even though the river flows just two kilometres away from my house. But now, sitting in Madras, I hear the call of the Ganga time and again. That's where I belong to, and I shall go there again, and again.

10 comments:

visithra said...

Distance does play a part - n it applies to any country - the joy to hear my national language spoken by a random stranger in a foreign country - i canno t explain the joy ;)

Anonymous said...

A wonderfully different opinion on NRIs. I am one.I was sick of the diatribe against the people who are living outside the country. It is as you mention only a physical distance.

You are one of the few people I look forward to reading again.

Thanks !

The ramblings of a shoe fiend said...

I took a creative writing course earlier in the year. Almost all my stories were set in India or had Indians as the main protagonists. Similarly a girl from Canada set her stories in her home town. Our teacher said it was common for writers to do that even decades after leaving their place of birth. For me writing about home is an effective solution to home sickness. I feel better immediately!

Anu Russell said...

ok i am going to say this in Hindi...and I am surely going to say it wrong...as I do not know hindi well enough to write or speak in it...but i am going to try...

aapne mera (or meri?) muh se Alfaz cheen liya...

You really did...I always felt like that...I miss India so much that everyday me and my hubby keep talking about things we did "back home" and how things are not the same anymore...and how life is so much better...and of course we keep planning to move back...

Ofcourse India is a great place and what other country can show progress like India does in only 59 years of being independent? America took 350+ years to be where it is today...

Got more to say but do not want to clog ur comments space...again Loved it...absolutely!

Anu Russell said...

the ramblings of a shoe fiend...I agree with you...almost always what i write is set in Chennai or Trichy...and also have noticed the same for many of my favorite authors...one of them being Grisham!

Anonymous said...

you made me cry !

Zeppelin said...

woww man ! never ever came across such a perspective..

i've been in the US for 5 years now.. and I have some indian roomies, who work for a popular s/w company in India. Whenever I scream my lungs out about some stupid social practice or something like that... all I get is i've changed. i've become an american.. etc.. :)

Subha said...

I agree. But sometimes, just sometimes, I wonder if maybe we idealize a distant past too much. You know, like taking a snapshot of a time long gone and airbrushing it over and over until it is perfect....but also nothing like reality! I do this at times when I think back of my childhood, college years etc...

This statement doesn't apply particularly to NRIs or Indians or whatever..Just a random rambling of mine...:)

Subha said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anubhuti said...

and still you haven't been there in almost two years. It's time you made that trip again.