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Friday, July 31, 2009

There and back again

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.

5 comments:

viswajith.k.n said...

do I smell something here? :P

Sriram said...

why does it sound like somebodys going to be gently nudged into thinking of an r2i :P

Venky said...

very interesting...

I really don't have anything valuable to say, but since I did take the time to read your blog, I wanted to leave a comment to make sure I get credit for it:)

Ganesh Venkittu said...

subha - I also shared the same passion about India/chennai until this trip..

imagine that you have landed in india....and among the many things on your agenda, you had bought a car for your parents

....and on the day it arrives, imagine you have to take your mom to emergency with a potential heart attack...at 11PM...and it takes 35 minutes to get to that doctor who is just 6 kms away....and all the while you were praying

1) doctor irukkanumae?
2) road il traffic jam aagathu irukkanumae
3) amma uyirodu irukkanumae...

that moment my friend, changes you...it shakes you....it makes you to feel "oh that idiot in gopalapuram who swindles does not have to go through this, because for him the whole world stops"....

it makes you to ask "do I belong here anymore"....it makes you to also think about the countlessly innumerable pregnant women, and similar old people who had to endure it --- just because they were born in india.....

and you feel pathetic, and you feel queasy....

and that my friend was how my vacation started...and I dont know how it ended, but it ended two weeks back.....and I dont know how and when I came back here....

ganesh
PS: 1) my mom is fine at the end...it was not an heart attack, but some extraordinary acid reflux....
2) no visit to srirangam, not even to my kula dheivam tirupathi this time due to that...
3) you are seriously overdue on your tamil writing....and your last post in the tamil blog contains some very serious grammatical/spelling errors which is unlike you...whats going on....

The Doodler said...

Ganesh sir,

sorry to hear you had such a painful trip back home! :( Glad to hear your mom is doing better.

I have heard/experienced similar stories in the US where people are rushed to the emergency room only to wait for 4 hours.

Anyway, each person's perspective depends on what they encounter.