Warning: Long sentimental Write-Up!
4th August, 2003. It's about 1am in the morning…….the scene is abuzz at the airport. Mom n Dad, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephews, friends, cousins, neighbors, ex-girl friends, more friends – all there to wish me good luck. Amidst the never ending lines of advice from elders, and the continuous reminders to keep in touch from friends, I steal the last glance of my motherland as I bid farewell to my family and friends. I leave a part of me behind in India. I make a promise to myself – I will return one day. Come what may!!
Within a few hours, I enter another planet. The US of A. I am living the American dream!
Time goes by….I learn new things….and forget few old ones……I train myself to roll my tongue when I say "r", I learn to call it the 'skedule' and not the 'schedule' (who cares what the Queen said), I change my DNA to throw in as many 'thankyous' and 'pleases' as I possibly can in every sentence. I am amazed by the roads, and by the sizes of things……
We create a mini India where we live. I return every evening to old bollywood songs and chai….we discuss cricket and Indian politics over tortillas replaced for rotis, we spend hours chatting with family and friends online…we graduate from school….join the IT army in the US.
There are times I cry and times I laugh….times I regret I left India and times I feel glad that I am not in India……..but there never is a time when I feel shaky about my decision to return – never. I know I will go.
And one fine Jan morning, the day comes for me to implement the plan……..to bid farewell again…..I buy, for the first time, a One Way ticket to Bombay!
I come back with dreams and apprehensions……there is a shine of hope, mixed with a cloud of uncertainty, there are fears (some real, others unfounded), and there is excitement and happiness. Mostly, there is contentment. I am keeping the promise I made to myself. I come back to contribute to my country, for it needs good sons. I went as a boy and I come back as a man! I come back with skills to blend the Orient and the Occident, I decide to take the best of both the cultures and make my own. From the quick NY head nod of 'wassup, to the authentic folded namashkar, from pesto salads to bhel-puris, from Starbucks mochas to Nukkad Cuttings, from Minus 20 degrees to + 40, from bald eagles to peacocks………..I can do it all!!!
28th August 2008: Today, its been 6 months that I came back……I now live in Bombay.
As I sit by my balcony on this rainy wet night, I see the city wrapping up for the day. Although it never sleeps, Bombay does quieten up a little towards the night you know!
Tonight, there are approximately two thousand one hundred and fifty seven thoughts in my head!!! I take a stroll back to the Orange streets of Syracuse on a cold October evening, and I can still smell the hot coffee as I walk past the big old tree in the quad!
I catch glimpses of my life in the US while I do my mundane bits in the routine day. It’s just the same feeling that we get when we move to the US for the first time and keep seeing flashes of India now and then!! There are times I feel like running back to Seattle – and there are times I want to just be here. There are times when I feel like walking to the middle of nowhere and just vanishing into thin air!!
As I said, it’s been 6 months now. India has successfully swallowed me, just the way it does to anyone who comes to its shores. Some people pat me on the back and proudly call me a ‘True Indian’, others think I made a wrong decision in moving back to the rut of the Indian life. I take both and make nothing of them.
I have learnt that it’s not the place where you live – it’s how you live!!
"Mitti ki jo hain khushboo, tu kaise bhoolaayega
Tu chaahe kahin jaaye, tu laut ke aayega"
"The greatest journeys are the ones that bring you home"!!
Jai Hind – In God We Trust!