“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you have altered.” – Nelson Mandela
We cross barriers, borders and lives. We aspire to being worldly travellers and knowers, but we still permit attachment to things that take us back to the start, Coldplay style. Home clearly means different things to different people. Some see it as a place, some see it as a person, some see it as a movie or a photograph, or even as a memory. I think home is more intangible than that, something you can only feel. I personally don’t have a physical home; I have each foot in a different place.
Some want to leave their physical home because they never felt like home there. Others want to leave because they believe that meeting a certain person or having a certain experience, which isn’t where they are now, will lead them to that sense of home. I personally always wanted to leave, simply because I aspired to make my physical home my metaphorical one. I never really found absolute comfort in most things or people I experienced in Bombay. Truthfully, I never felt devastatingly sad at the thought of leaving. Instead, this aspiration towards that sense of homecoming came bubbling out. I wanted to leave so I could come back and truly mean it when I say “I’ve missed being here.”
You know what I mean, right? When you enter a rut; same old places, same old faces, no inspiration; there really isn’t a lot to apply your intellectual capabilities to. An immersive experience of another culture was an eye-opener I definitely didn’t see coming, and I can’t stop craving more. I crave the different perspectives there are to encounter, the beauty there’s left to see. I crave the feeling of returning somewhere, and finding salvation in self-evaluation. I crave the knowledge these travels will lead me to, the biases they would inculcate or deplete.
And though this won’t really fix the world up for anybody, it starts with one person and all that, right?
When I first moved to Canada to attend University, I was obviously aware of the huge Indian population. What I wasn’t so aware of are the weird (and often ridiculous) stereotypes that exist within non-Indians about desi culture. Over the years, I’ve made a list of the assumptions people have made to me or around me about Indians, and attempted to clarify as many of them as possible. So here it is –
- All Indians are Punjabi – People from the different states of India have very little in common beyond geography. Trust me.
- Indians don’t know English – English, believe it or not, is the only language spoken all over the country. Most Indian majorities don’t even speak Hindi (which is the national language, BTW) fluently. Even the fucking beggars in Slumdog Millionaire speak English. What does that tell you?
- Slumdog Millionaire is an accurate and well-rounded representation of Indian culture – Bitch please.
- Indians are cheap – The Script’s ‘Breakeven’ is clearly based on the Dollar-Rupee exchange rate. Now if you’d care to explain why $4 on a slice of pizza is absolutely ridiculous?
- Living in the USA is the ultimate dream – Though this is true to a great extent, I’m sure it wouldn’t be so if the Google headquarters were located elsewhere.
- The Kama Sutra is nothing but ‘Indian’ for Sex for Professionals – Didja read the part about how women should learn art and science? Or the part discussing how to live a healthy and financially stable family life? No? So you’re just a presumptuous little twit then? I thought so.
- ‘Indian’ is a legitimate language – In response to this, I recommend that you visit the page of someone wise on Tumblr – “In Indian we don’t say ‘I love you.’ We say ‘That’s not even a language you ignorant imbecile.'”
- The Brown People-Terrorist Relation – Honestly bro, most brown people have more useful shit to do than to spend their days planning a bombing in the West. Get that narcissistic pole out of your arse, North America, and whack yourself in the head with it.
- India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. is all one huge nation – This doesn’t even deserve to be dignified with a response.
- All we eat is curry – I really thought that this was as a joke. Ain’t nobody got time for this! And in relation to this, I found that a lot of people think that –
- Butter chicken is the only curry there is – Sweetie, 42% of Indians are vegetarian. We know how to make veggie food like no other bitches can. Please keep your lentil veggie burgers to yourself and let me add my chaat masala.
So all in all, people need to wise up, and learn that we aren’t just a nation full of stinky, hairy, cab drivers. It’s honestly appalling that cultural ignorance is still as widespread as ever before. And I sure hope that this article made someone see our existence more clearly.
And if this isn’t enough, I suggest you look at this before you ask anyone from South Asia anything at all.
My Pursuit of the Art of Living
Digging this article right now. A must-read.
I wanted to start something, y’know? Something for me.
She said that I don’t do things for myself. I sit on my arse and ponder upon the fate of others, while time slowly ebbs into oblivion. She said that I was being “blasphemous” by wasting my mental space on things that “really won’t pay your ransom money if you get kidnapped or some shit.” I’m not quite sure what part of this eloquent speech my mother expected me to latch onto, but there was one part that stood out. The part where me and the generation I belong to are losing our identities as individuals, and drifting into the battered shoes of a cultural vagabond of sorts.
Upon reflection, I enjoyed the term. Cultural vagabond. Without place, without identity, without restrictions of the mind. Seems like a good way to summarise where the natives of the 21st Century are heading. An ocean of undiscovered choices and thoughts and experiences and possibilities and troubles. And we’re nosediving into it without a backward glance or second thought. Dora the Explorer style.
Which led me to the nuances of the digitised existence we live and love. Sure, social media has spread to every corner of our ginormous planet, but for a very specific purpose. To encourage us to share our stories. To support the voices of the average. But my conversation (read: screech-off) with my mum got me to thinking – Has this phenomenon boiled over? Are there too many voices? Have the realities of existence have been drowned by the wild credulity of the blogosphere? I’m not sure if I disagree.
We’ve now ushered our way into a vacuum of social recognition. We use media most as a means to give credence to our existence. An existence dedicated to the externals and not ourselves. Mum wasn’t wrong she accused me of living my life through the another’s eyes, and it never fazed me. Hey, my people will sort my life out. But now I’m not so sure if I want that to be the case.
So here I sit, warming my arse, starting something for me. Something small, but something real.
I’ve come to find that a few words on a screen possess the strength to change shit up, big time. I don’t possess the idealism required to change the world. Ain’t NOBODY got time fo dat. I also do realise the hypocrisy I am exuding by doing this on WordPress. But, it’s about time I make something mine. Even if it is carving a niche into the internet.
Who knows, it might even work.