When: November 15th 2014
(About the Image from Archives: Traditional way of making brinjal/egg-plant chutney. Amma!!!! I love you!!! )
What would be your reaction if you were walking the streets of a colony in the US during a chilly weather and you are stopped in your tracks by the aroma of south Indian cooking? Happened to me in California earlier this week. The beautiful aroma of a perfectly brewed south indian rasam or (chaaru as I was taught to call it). There I was walking to the car to get back to my hotel room and I stopped in my tracks. A flood of memories in my brain made tears well up. How I miss the streets of the city I grew up in. How I miss the pressure cooker whistles during dinner times and my mom’s cooking. Ask me why and I don’t have an answer. Every time someone says to me, “Haven’t you gotten used to living here? ” , I don’t have a clear answer. Till earlier this week, it never made sense to me why the thoughts or words about home or India made me so home sick. It was like at any point of time, if I would have $2000 with me, the natural thing I would do is buy a ticket and go home. I guess that’s why I never have $2000 dollars 😛
In India, I hated the pollution and the traffic. Not being able to get out of the house at late nights to just go take a walk, getting tired of long queues in government offices the list is endless. Many things I have seen happen in India around me definitely made me an unhappy person sometimes. But when I look back, what tugs at my heart at the mention of that country are the memories I have from there. The beautiful times I shared with my family and friends. The recipes I learnt while sitting on the counter tops in my mom’s kitchen. The finesse in chopping vegetables that I learnt from my father. The proverbial stories I heard from my grandmother, the chunks of freshly made butter that she hid for me always. Those are the things that make me miss my home. When I was at the conference this week I met a person who traveled out of their state for the first time ever. This person came from a county that has a population of about 5000 people. When she was talking about her town, I saw in her how I look to people while talking about my home and my memories. Like any typical foreigner, when I moved to the US, I was always surprised at the similarities in people and personalities across both the countries. I would make remarks like, “Wow! These folks here also eat their dinners together. They are also taught what religion and prayer is!”. Now I know how flawed my preconceived idea of American every day life was. Listening to an American talk about their home town with such longing and adoration, I understood how we are all so similarly dissimilar. We belong to two different geographic areas, we have such different food habits and lifestyles. Yet we all think alike.
The need for a comforting environment to exist seems to be universal.
These days, I feel writing out what I feel is helping me organize my thoughts in a chaotic environment. While risking the chance of being branded a mad person, I am saying it out :). I feel blogging helps me talk to myself about my thoughts. It has helped me talk about things I feared expressing before. Forever I was in denial of the fact that I missed living in my parents’ home. That I missed waking up to the noise of every day Indian life around me. By writing about it openly, I feel relieved of the self-imposed pressure that I have been subjecting myself to.
Not everyone has the strength to call a foreign land their home. Not everyone has the courage to build a home in a land that they are not born in. I salute the efforts of all the Indians who by choice or chance have called American their home. I understand it requires a different level of commitment and dedication with huge amounts of sacrifice thrown in. While I continue to learn from life here, I long to be home some day to wake up to the sounds of India around me.