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  • “No matter how many years I’ve been away, Home will always be India.”

    This was the closing line from a moving ad featuring expats, by British Airways.

    I left India over 30 years ago. It doesn’t feel like Home anymore. It never really did even before I left.

    I can remember when I was around 14 or 15, feeling like I didn’t belong there. I hadn’t been anywhere else, but I knew deep inside that India was not where I should be or wanted to be.

    It is a discomforting feeling to have, to not feel like you belong in your own place of birth.

    As a family we were all emotionally distant even while living under the same roof. My parents barely spoke to each other and only had functional conversations with the children. Each of the siblings traversed their own social orbits. We gathered together physically at day’s end for meals and shelter. And then off and about again in the morning to wherever one needed to go – school, college, jobs. I had no reason to come home at day's end other than the fact I had nowhere else to go for the essentials – food, bed, sundries. But for everything else – entertainment, socializing, learning, experimenting, sharing, baring – I had places to go, people to be with. Friends, friends of friends. Good, enjoyable people. But not ‘my people’.

    As a nation, India had been stuck in an existential doldrum for all the years I lived there. The same problems and never-changing limitations. Fatalism, pervasive. Status quo ruled. An oppressive culture of expectations permeated all aspects of life. Behave a certain way, follow the path prescribed for you, listen to everyone but yourself.

    I had difficulty relating to its people – not as individuals, but as a society. I was at odds with its unquestioning ways. It stifled, constricted, and felt closed to my spirit. I needed more. I needed different. I needed change.

    I was so elated the day I learned I could leave this country I sobbed uncontrollably. I was giddy with excitement to be heading out into the unknown and the uncertain.

    That is it, I think. I thrive in doubt, uncertainty, and the possibilities of newness. I relish the feeling of a new journey – be it geographic, intellectual or emotional.

    In America, you have the freedom to define who you are and who you are going to be. In fact it is required.

    The privilege of fulfilling this self-imposed mandate has been a tortuous and achingly joyful journey since I arrived in the US. To find my way. To find me. To find home. I’m not there.

    But I do know this: India will never be Home for me.
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