Saturday, December 22, 2007

Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani

I know, I know…the timing of this blog makes no sense whatsoever. We’re four months too late for August 15th (India’s Independence Day), and a month too early for January 26th (Republic Day). But then it is what it is. One moment I’m feeling all jolly, merry and Christmas-y and then bam! just a simple phone call later, and I’m all nostalgic, patriotic and desi. It’s all part of the NRI package. Just one of those clauses in tiny italicized print that nobody tells you you’ll be signing up for when you choose the life of an Indian living abroad.

I was only five years old when I left India with my parents to spend a lifetime abroad. You’d think that being that young, I’d have no memories of what life in India was like. But I do remember. I remember it all. I remember being a brat in kindergarten and having my Parsi teacher yell at me…the stories my grandpa would read me from the Amar Chitra Katha…the swinging on banyan trees in my grandma’s village… playing marbles in the dirt with my cousins…the trips to Juhu beach with my mum and dad. Or at least I think I remember. Because it’s hard to tell where my own memories end and where those of my parents begin. I grew up in a family that never let me forget what it was like. A family that cherished every memory of their life in India and lived every day in nostalgia, reminding their kids of the life before now, what things were like back then. A family that made sure that no matter where I grew up or where I would live years later, I’d always remember where it was that I came from.

It’s been several years since I moved out of my parents’ home. And of all the things I miss when the familiar pangs of homesickness hit, I think I miss the stories the most…the sitting around our living room in Africa during a blackout, in the dim glow of a lantern, talking about life back in India.

I called home today. No, not my home in Africa. My home in India. Where a large part of my extended family lives and where my parents are visiting right now. The phone lines were extremely horrible but even despite the choppy lines, I could hear the laughter of a clan reunited in the background as the phone passed its way from one hand to another. There’s a certain bitter-sweetness to blessings given over a telephone wire, tears over a shared memory, an unexplained closeness toward strangers who feel like family, an eerie distant closeness to places and people that exist only in your memories. For me, that bitter-sweetness is what I know of being Hindustani.

I came across this clip today, and it reminded me of all the times I’ve been frustrated over India…times when I’ve been unable to contact my parents in India and angrily snarled at the phone “This is just so typically India!” or expressed my disapproval over how events were conducted in India and mumbled, “This never would have happened in America”. This clip makes me feel intensely proud of my country, and my heritage, and reminds me of where I come from…and between the clip and the phone call and the wave of nostalgia that’s flooding through my heart right now, despite growing up abroad, I can truly say “phir bhi dil hai hindustani”.

~vagabond~ © 2007

1 comment:

Cuckoo said...

I very well remember my childhood. Something similar to you, I have nice fond memories of these national holidays.

This is one just link for you

And this completes reading each single post on your blog. :)