A Fervent Search for my Founding Roots

Immersing ourselves in the exploration of our roots always

Tends to render in us a meticulous sense

Of introspective analysis. We sometimes incline

Towards being critical, other times lenient

With how much or how little our foundation matters

In ‘the grand scheme of things’. We are scrupulous

And fastidious in measurements and desperate quantification, seeking

A definitive and complete resolution to the ‘issue’

Of what constitutes the basis of our being.


Easy it is to ignore how much

We can learn about ourselves

And our roots from those we love. We flail

And stutter so often in their presence that we neglect

Our desire for closeness and distance, both alternately

Or indeed successively. Gasping for air, we surface -

But lest we forget; we can swim and float in no small measure

Thanks to the buoyancy and talent bequeathed to us by our roots.


To what extent should we bind ourselves

To the facts that outline our existence? Should it suffice

To content us that our roots possess a hand in the shape of our bodies,

The colours that unravel across our bodies,

And the manner of our speech? Could our obsession

With the roots that define us, whose legacy we must somehow shoulder

Until the maturity of the next generation; merely distract

Us from flowing with the tide?


Statements and questions can easily constitute aspects

Of the same multifaceted ‘coin’, akin to the way in which

Our roots manifest themselves in everyday life. We are simultaneously

The products and the progenitors of our roots — and no more

Can this be visible than to consider the space in which college

Appears to a third culture child in Toronto, Ontario. This may

Also be poignantly observed from the shores of the Lake

Of Shining Waters along Queens Quay West, where individuals expend

Time, effort and energy towards the near-absolute evasion

Of human contact while embracing wholeheartedly

The company of mute domestic animals.


Three calendar Gregorian years have passed since I arrived

In this frigid Northern land to pursue a tertiary education

Unlike anything I had previously experienced — a significant

Seventh of my life thus far. Comic stands the persistent

And perpetual reticence of this people on the subject

Of human-to-human contact, grounded in a perennial

And cantankerous fear of the unknown that is

As stubborn as it is inconvenient for newcomers in

A ‘welcoming multicultural nation’ proud of its traditions

Of perseverance. This fear is infectious to the point

Where the pestilence of awkwardness strikes poisonously

Whenever any unsuspecting stranger ventures to begin

A conversation with me in a public place, as I leap

To the conclusion that no one would dare perpetrate

Such an act unless they sought to gain some ulterior and selfish

Thing from me — for why else would they violate

The simplest unwritten law of Canadian public social etiquette?


This sits ill with someone brought up to cheerfully chat

To one’s neighbours with the blissful comfort of ease

With which conversation is conducted

In ‘middle-income nations’. Solidarity,

Compassion and fraternity mean precious little

To a people obsessed with themselves through no fault

Of their own. As social-networking wrenches our youth

From what little human contact is left on this planet, I grow

To wonder what a privileged Indian kid from Abu Dhabi

Can say or do other than to lament.


I stand ill-equipped to examine or critique

The various unique quirks that colour individuals

That percolate in this multi-cultural city. However,

There are angles that are more certain than others; things

We can know. We know that pets have a dedicated

Hotel and spa on the street where I make my home, and

That marriage rates have declined more dramatically

In this Financial District than anywhere else

Across Canada. There are serious questions at play here -

What shape will social dynamics take following

Their inevitable nullification along the Blue Edge?

What economic benefits can be drawn from

Individual consumer decisions absent the shared

Anecdotal experiences of our fellow man? How will we draw

Courage from the unease inspired among the masses

About the fleshy cages that we all inhabit

And commit to the pursuit of cookie-cutter corps?


Let me not omit the superficial playground

Known as college. As I prepare for the zombie experience

Aptly termed ‘going to college’ every morning, I wonder

About whether it might not be just as fulfilling

To dive into Lake Ontario as riding the subway. Each day,

I observe with passing, and occasionally piqued

Interest the attractive individuals that seat themselves

On this tube of mass transportation — all casting

Their gaze determinedly downwards in futile endeavours

To defuse the sexual tension that develops

In stare-contests. Upon arrival, the pattern

Of people attempting to engage as little as possible

With peripheral individuals other than themselves repeats

Itself ad infinitum (without ever diminishing its amusement value).


I lose myself in the calm currents

Of lecture or tutorial material, responding

Only when called upon to do so. As I do so,

I note the infernal gossip behind me on the left, and

The smatterings of infantile suck-ups on the right. I sigh

And am left to wonder how Oxbridge could -

And whether it would, cultivate similar characters

In a surreal farce apparently designed to humour

A collective consciousness in society. What use

Could a command of seven languages conceivably hold

In an atmosphere that persists in being stifling?


Slight rays of hope appear along the horizon

When life surprises me with genuine persons

Expressing interest in conversation. The heavens

Persevere in snatching from me this small pleasure

When they call solely for help with their work — but some

Still appreciate fine food and the experience of good

Company along waves of freshwater (with the accompanying

Ducks and geese). The ‘ups and downs’ of life present

Themselves thus to me in my sojourn into

The unknown on this beautiful Earth in a life

Too short to dwell upon the insignificance of human

Existence, at college or at my Canadian home.


We soar, gliding effortlessly amidst clouds

Of ignorance — often deliberately formed, each droplet

Being weighed to allow generous furnishings with ample

Benefits and no drawbacks to our motives and 
Ambitions. Gone is the delicious taste

Of adventure and surprise in this predictable life

Viewed by our ancestors as disappointingly dull. Albeit thus,

Should we regard a creature as extinct

Due to its escaping detection in a society

Drowning in neoliberal frenzy?


We frequently become our roots as they become

Us, interchangeably and concurrently as the wind

Whistles across distant lands covered in sand dunes. Monsoon clouds

Unburden their loads carelessly in all directions

Of the Deccan Plateau, as a chilly summer unfolds

In the True North. Elsewhere, infants emerge and cry out

In new worlds as others starve to death. We exercise

And indulge our appetites as the rich hoard and the poor

Endure with each day tersely pushing the gap between

The two to an ever-widening point. Fleeing from us,

Nature chases us with oxymoronic glee — felt strongest

By our most vulnerable as the powerful seek shelter

In bubbles perched high above the rabble; clinging

To their roots as they distance themselves

From the earth that sustains them.

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