Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Its Independence Day, and I'm wondering what the speech from Red Fort is about this year.

When I was in school today was about waking up early and grudgingly going to school for flag hoisting and "cultural" event with kids putting up shows in different languages and wearing clothes from different parts of the country. In college and later at work, it was a holiday we looked forward to and planned a trip if it were close to the weekend. Now, it is no longer a holiday but a day when I take a moment off to think about my country.

Like many .. or maybe most NRI's, leaving India makes me think about the country more consciously. Atleast once in six months I've been in a gathering with people talking about India, how we've all left, the implications and so on. There's always mixed feelings at these gatherings.. lots of nostalgia and sometimes guilt. This was ofcourse at the peak when Swadesh was released. I don't feel guilty, though I do miss being in all my familiar surroundings and being the local. Ofcourse every time I land in an Indian airport (or visit the high commission) and have to deal with the chaos, all the nice feelings vanish (though after moving to the UK and going through Heathrow, I now look upon the Indian arrivals more kindly).

One thing I am very scared about is losing touch with India and the realities. By that I mean, freezing the image of when I left and living my life by it. I think frequent trips help eliminate that, and am hoping sometime in the future I'll get to work there atleast on a short term assignment. When I was growing up, I always felt that cousins and friends from abroad were frozen in their parents time. I once sat next to a couple on an early morning flight(when I am at my grouchy best) who marvelled at sugar sachets, women working and laptops - 'India Shining' (!!) ... and if their endless questions were not enough, the lady in her bright red clothes and 10 inches of make up on a 6am flight was hurting my eyes which were barely open. So, in short, am terrified of becoming like them (will never wear bright red clothes or 10 inches make up though) and being out of sync... scared because I'd like to be in touch and more so, sounding like an idiot!

Have been rambling. But this post is about my 15 minutes to think about my country .. before I am once again swallowed into the day of job hunting and house decorations.


Sunrayz said...

You've put your thoughts very well.
I have relatives who have 'frozen' their image of India in the 1970s when they left.Recently they have been staying for longer than their ritual 2-0r-3-weeks-meet-relatives-visit-temples -buy-masalas routine. They are now pleasantly surprised at how much has changed.
I am unable tocall myself an NRI yet- just 2 years since I left - but still have mixed emotions regarding the issue. It's so personal, isnt't it?

Pea said...

[Sunrayz] I've been away for nearly the same length of time (2 years) and till now have been home often enough. Its ten years down that I'm apprehensive of. Have you read Namesake (by Jhumpa Lahiri)? I think she puts the first gen vs second gen story very nicely.

Sunrayz said...

Oh my God!!! What a coincidence.
I can't tell you how much of an impact 'The Namesake' made on me , when I read it last year. I couldn't sleep very well for a day or two just thinking of of the situation I was in.

Pea said...

Totally.. and I can see myself falling for so many of the stereotypes ...very very scary.