Indian Expatriates: What do they call home?
I’ve been an expat for as long as I can remember. I guess you could say I never belonged anywhere. And that’s not the warmest feeling.
I’ve been born and brought up in the Middle East. I’ve lived in India only for a short period of three years. And those were the best years of my life.
The first year there, I resisted it. And I got some serious heat from my classmates. I was the “foreigner”. I didn’t fit in.
I learnt my mother tongue, Tamil, and my hometown started to warm up to me. I noticed the humanity and warmth the people exuded,especially the cheerful rickshaw drivers and roadside garland sellers. They’d go about their daily lives, chattering and gossiping about their lives, with not a care in the world. I’d gotten so sucked into the capitalist society in the Middle East, that I’d never realised what humanity was. Until I returned home.
When I lived in the Middle East, it was heaven. I was sheltered, looked after and hidden from the real world. I thought this was all there is to it. I refused to adopt any possible cultural rituals that would suggest I’m vaguely Indian. When my mother called me to sit cross-legged in front of our tiny stone ideal of Ganesha at sunset, I questioned her faith and failed to see any sense in it. Visiting the local temple, every Friday morning, was a tiresome chore and my feet ached from walking on the unpaved gravel.
Some people mistook me for being Thai. And that gave me a guilty sense of joy. I wasn’t Indian, but I was somewhere in-between.
But that’s what they say about wishful thinking. You just might get what you wish for.
I’ve been stuck in the in-between ever since. In No Man’s Land. Much like Tom Hanks in the Terminal. Its a mental rut I can never get out of.
My short three years in my homeland gave me the cultural identity I needed desperately to strip myself of this foreign covering; the protective fur I’d grown innately.
I’m 21 years old now and I’m slowly, but surely starting the realise the importance of cultural identity.
Where do we truly belong?
Does it depend on race, country or religion?
Disclaimer: This is the first in the series of Cultural Identity I intend to explore in the coming days. Religious readers beware.