Another India trip has gone by. On the flight back home, as I was trying to ease my cramped legs, I wondered how many years I was going to do this -- the months of planning ahead for the 3-week trip, weeks just looking forward to the moment I would board the flight back home and the insane cramming of all things possible into the 3 short weeks at home. There's family and friends to visit, festive occassions, weddings to attend (if you go in the months of June/July), shopping for esoteric Indian supplies to last you the next year in the US, packing all manners of podis, oorugais within the allotted 100 lbs per person and of course, if you get lucky, some personal time to do the things you really, really want to do.
Someone wrote in a blog that US desis seem to live only during weekends. We wait the entire week for the weekend to have "fun". Add the 3-week India trip to that list, and I seem to come truly alive only for these short moments! I can hear the naysayers out there sniggering, "Maybe you live on the weekends. We know how to have fun throughout the year!". Perhaps.
Tamilnadu is where I feel completely at home, at ease. It is where I can eat thayir sadham with my hands, wear colorful, fragrant flowers in my hair every single day, don bright sarees and not have to explain anything to anyone. When I landed in Chennai airport after a 30 hour journey, I felt light. Along with the heat wave that washed over me as soon as I stepped out, there was also this wave of relief! Not even Mumbai evokes this feeling for me.
I was trying to explain this feeling to one of my father's friends and I blurted out, "Ermm.. Chennai is my natural habitat!" like I was some primordial being. But it is true -- the heat, sweat, humidity just didn't bother me after a week. I was home.
There are a lot of NRIs out there contemplating R2I. Everyone discusses the merits of schooling in India, the amount of pollution in the air, the time it takes to commute, the interminable traffic and crowds etc.. I confess I do as well. But it finally has dawned on me that R2I means I can stop living a dual life -- trying to fit into the American life by day and being desi by evenings -- and be my harmonious own self. That, I think, would be priceless and beats every other consideration hands down. Amen.