The return home....

This post had to be written. However, the timing couldn't be better.

Two posts brought be back from my blogging ennui. They are here and here.

Without going into the details of these posts, let me summarize - two different authors have returned to India after a period of time and talk about their experiences.

In my personal journey - I've lived various parts of south India until 17, at which point I moved to North India to spend the next four years of my life. I left India to move to the U.S. a week after I turned 21 , where I lived in about four different cities over the next seven years of my life. I then decided to move again, this time to the U.K.. We've moved around a fair bit when I was growing up, and I am no stranger to uprooting yourself from a place , moving and starting all over. I've done this quite a few times in my life.

Change of any kind is hard. No matter how used to it you get. Status-quo is just fine, it will do, it has done. It's much easier to stay in your comfort zone than to adapt to new things. And , the older you are, the harder it gets. Also, bear in mind that all these moves so far related to me, mostly. I was the only one living with the consequences of each decision to move, the good and the bad. But it is going to be different now, the next move we make, has to work for both of us. And at some point, there will be more of us involved - his parents,mine, siblings,nephews, our own kids someday. That definitely complicates the decision to move back. And yes, there are financial and lifestyle implications of that decision as well. And of course, there are blindspots - unforseen circumstances and such.

The move from India to the west happens for reasons we all know - better education, better job prospects, money, lifestyle. Things that for most people, would have been hard to get in India, for various reasons. But what motivates people to move back ? I think therein lies the heart of the issue. Every country, every culture comes with its own charecteristics. The author of the NYtimes article claims that the Indian society dehumanizes people.It also makes references to inherent casteism, rampant even in the modern day Indian society. I don't question the veracity of this argument, not for one second. But it is also worth keeping in mind that people aren't ideal - neither are countries and cultures.

The other day, I saw this discussion on British television , where the prime minister addressed the issue of adoption in this country. In this country, black kids are three times less likely to be adopted than white kids,mainly due to the social workers not giving up black kids to white homes for adoption. Yes, it has become a political issue, with parties calling it apartheid-style discrimination. But let's put that side and view it differently for a minute. Imagine the practical difficulties of a black kid growing up in white family - the effect it would have on the child growing up. How would the grandparents, siblings and neighbors, schoolmates accept this child ? What effect would it have on a young child during impressionable years when the identity is still being formed ? It is the job of the social worker to consider all these elements and determine what's best for the child.

A colorblind society is a recipe for disaster. The best cultures move to a place where they understand, acknowledge and appreciate the differences, maybe even celebrate them. Colorblind means closing your eyes and saying no differences exist - color-appreciative means you acknowledge the differences, accept and imbibe them into your cultural fabric. India's casteism is not much different from the racial paradigms, and the issues that the west is trying to solve for.

The return back home is bittersweet. It's a country you know, and a culture that defines you. And yet, you are somehow removed from it. It is like the ability to act in a play and watch it from the sidelines at the same time. We've all read many a book and seen many a movie that talks about immigrant woes. But what an amazing opportunity to carve out a new world for yourself ? One that isn't bound and defined by where you are from or where you live but by who you choose to be ?

After all, isn't that the freedom that propelled a lot of us to pack up, move and explore ?

1 Response
  1. Dilip Says:

    An interesting post. Having spent time in the west and eventually returning to India, I often feel how would I have felt if I had continued without returning?

    Reading your post, perhaps gives me a small insight to how it might have been.

    Nice to see you blogging more often !!