6.8.15

A third of your life...

11 years ago, I set out on a ill-conceived and much anticipated journey from my home land. To study and enrich myself in more ways than one. Today, 11 years later, I've spent a full third of my life outside of India. It feels like a sort of milestone. The next one will be in 11 years more - if I am still in the US. That future line is tough to predict. Ater all my formative youth has been spent in the United States. Today I am more India-American than Indian. That is a bittersweet pill to swallow.

I have had a good life here. This country has been extremely kind to me. It's amazing cities, it's beautiful national forests, it's exciting technical scene - everything has been fun. I ended up studying in a good school, working with some great professors and getting a sort of education. My work here has been exciting at times - in social media especially. I ended up being the dumb kid in the middle of some really smart people and that was great. You want to be surrounded by smart people and learn and absorb. I was lucky enough to do just that. And the people ... most people I've met have been generous and considerate. I've rarely been made to feel like I am an outsider. I've made some lasting friendships and learnt a lot about how to live. I have made a family here and live the life many of us dream of - quiet, happy and full of joy (knock on wood).

Still, there is a soreness at not being part of the nation you were born in. In today's age that feels like a throwback. The internet makes everyone a global citizen. The dropping of barriers in travel ,surely, makes it less imperative to tie oneself down to one region. But what of the friends and family I left behind? In some cases, they have gone forever and I won't be able to see their faces ever again. India has moved on - it has been a decade after all and for a developing country that is like a century. My memories, my tastes lie firmly in the noughts and going back to today's India without having grown up there is a definite challenge.

As part of the diaspora, the bond that links me back via family and friends is both  tenuous and strong - pulling me back to the memories of my childhood and pushing me away because of the distance. I of course follow Indian politics while being a liberal here. One foot is firmly in the present here and the other in India. This attitude is frequently met with scorn - Indians don't want "foreigners" to have opinions about Indian politics, Americans don't understand how "outsiders" can understand the American life. It is disheartening all around.

I struggle with the decision to move back completely at times. It seems like the logical thing to do in a few years. I wonder how the many merchants and scholars who emigrated in the day of the mail and the trunk call ever dealt with this. It gets fairly depressing at times truth be told, but the Internet comes to the rescue on a daily basis. I chat with my family, gossip with friends and keep an eye on the politics everywhere. In many ways I feel the distance shorten and the timelines cross.

It feels good in a way to straddle both worlds and be a stranger in neither.