Even the Kalahari Bushman wants to come back to his desert

And people ask “Why come back to India?”!?

One of the most shared and discussed topics of my generation is “Reasons for moving back to India from the US” or variations of this theme. If I had saved a penny for every time I encounter this topic, I would have saved a fortune. I hear people from both sides justify their choices in a zillion ways, and weigh every reason as if this is some sophisticated decision-tree analysis, or as if one’s everyday life is suddenly happier if more people made the same choice.

This question is also raised by retired couples, who I bump into every now and then, who are curious about my decision. I can see they miss their children, especially their grand-children, hence they push me to rationalize my choice.

Do reasons matter? Those of you who have seen the movie Gods Must be Crazy, would remember the finale — when the adorable Bushman who left home, comes back to his family, to his home in the heart of the Kalahari where there are no walls, no Coke bottles, no cars, no nothing. After seeing a land which has all the luxuries, after being a hero in that modern land, and even after living among what he considers are Gods, he still opts to come back.

Why did the movie show the Bushman coming home to the Kalahari — he chose a brutal desert, of all possible places he could have chosen!?

The reason we never question the movie is because we all know that ending was the most happy ending the Director could have chosen for the Bushman.

I never made a list of reasons when I moved back. I just wanted to come home. Even today, I encounter tiny joys from being where I am. For example, I celebrate my son’s birthday with my husband’s 88-year-old grandmother. I peep out of the window, and notice others celebrating a festival I would have missed completely had I not been at home. I press a button in the car, and sometimes there’s a song playing on the radio, from my childhood — without any effort from me, in a language I relate to. These are not reasons, they’re just a part of being at home.

However, I recognize that there is another side that is equally meaningful. In Bangalore, the spas and salons employ women from the North-East of India. I always ask them about their home in the mountains. Some of them miss home a lot, especially mothers who have children back home. But I understand why they are here. They need to save for their families, they need to put their family’s well-being before their heart. They’re not greedy, nor have they forgotten their other duties back home. They just cannot be at home.

Not everyone defines home the same way. Some define it as the exact city where they grew up, some define it as the country, some define it as their spouse’s country, and some define it as anywhere their children feel loved.

What we each call home may change on the map, but we will find a way to come back to it, just like our friend, the Kalahari Bushman.

That will always be the happy ending.