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Indian time out

“Where are you from?”

“I’m Indian.”

“Oh really? I was going to guess something like Indonesian.”

And so it goes.  I smile, one which is perhaps a little tired. It’s not the first time.

I think this is going to happen even in India, when Danko and I go tomorrow, for 3 months.

During these exchanges, I also probably shrug my shoulders, my body language projecting ‘Yeh I know. I find it hard to believe myself sometimes’.  Sure, my parents are both Indian, I lived there until I was six, and I absolutely adore Indian food.  That’s about it though.  I sound foreign when I try to speak Bengali, I turn into stiff robot whenever I wear a sari, I suddenly lose my sense of rhythm when the Bollywood music comes on, my understanding of Indian politics is shaky…the list of my ‘non-Indianness’ goes on.   3 months in India. This is going to be the longest period of time I will have spent there, since I left 30 years ago.  That pressure sits on my shoulders like a bad backpack, weighing heavier as the day approaches.  Will I start to feel a sense of belonging? Will my rhythm vibe with India? Or will I be out of step?

Ironically, I think Danko will move fluidly in the country. He has ‘aaram se’ naturally built into him whereas I stomp, grumble and huff when things don’t happen when and how they are supposed to.  He doesn’t have to prove anything in India.  He can just take the experience as it comes.

Maybe I don’t have anything to prove either.  To myself, to others, to India.  Sure, my Indian-ness is at times more Indian-less but that’s not the really the point, I’m coming to realise.    This trip is about pulling us out of the day to day, to be in another way, in another place for a moment.  It’s about having the time to start a relationship with India on my terms.  I want to be open, to observe myself from a distance, to understand what I enjoy, what irritates me.  Oh, and I want to eat all the food.  Obvs.

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