In 2005, after a month long vacation in the US I returned back to India, but on my way back home when I boarded at the flight at the JFK airport at New York I was in deep thoughts which was very unusual for the 18 year old me, as we were going through security all kinds of thoughts were going around in my mind much like the brownian motion ( random thoughts moving in random directions and colliding with each other so much so that till date I cannot re collect them in a coherent manner). Soon we sat down near our gate and by now my mother had been bombarding me with a 100 questions as to why I was so silent and what was I thinking about which is very typical of a hyper Indian mom… I just ignored her partly because I was lost in thoughts and partly because I myself could not explain to her what was going on…
Finally it was time to board and once we had settled in I turned on the monitor while the air hostess was busy blowing air into the vest, and that was when it struck me just like lightning strikes unannounced and with a magnitude that is really hard to take, as the flight took off I could see the Manhattan skyline and that is when I realized that I was very unhappy in this country. Yes, surprisingly the 18 year old me was very unhappy but then I just went through the entire vacation and kept smiling into the new digital camera that my father purchased without truly smiling from the heart. I could not still point out what I was unhappy about but then as we took off I sensed a calmness in me and then everything was fine, I just wanted to get home, to India, to my country.
Finally afterwhat seemed to me like light years, we landed in India and I was extremely happy. Little did I realize that I had taken so many things we have in our country for granted. The warmth in the people, the variety in food, the colors, the culture, everything right from the availability of affordable public transport like autorickshaws, affordable domestic help, the warmth in the waiters who serve us at even road side dhabas, the genuine smile on the face of the vegetable vendor, I missed everything. I missed the personal touch that we experience in India.
That was also when I realized that the USA was and is a very nice, clean and neat country with a lot of good things that have always been praised, but there are good things and nice things about India too that are seldom spoken about. All that people talk about are the dirty roads, the poverty, the corruption and the crime.
But all these problems exist even in the US. There is crime, there is extreme poverty, poverty which is seldom shown in photographs or documentaries, a high level of drug abuse among youth, incest, gang wars and last but not the least gun violence.
Has anybody in India ever had to step out of the house with the fear that you might be shot at?
Has any parent in India ever had the fear that their child might be shot at school just because some random person was gifted a gun on his/her 18th birthday and decided to use it like a toy? I don’t think anybody except residents of Jammu and Kashmir battle this kind of a fear on a day to day basis.
Then why is that no documentary is ever made on these topics? Why is that no Indian settled in America will never ever make an issue out of these incidents and complain about them when they visit India just like they go on bickering about the Indian roads, the Indian people, the Indian doctors, the Indian weather and about everything including the poor hens on the streets!!!
I especially noticed this bickering after my return from the U.S. of A. Everywhere I went there would be these “cool” NRI people wearing faded jeans with a digital camera hanging around their neck and clicking pictures of the same things, people and dirt they would have criticized about just minutes ago. And to make matters worse, its again these cool NRI people who will happily toss their “Aquafina mineral water bottle” onto the street while sitting in the air car and talking about “dirty Indian roads”….
Well, though its been more than a decade since then, its sad that these facts remain true even till date. For me India has and will always be home, a home where I will always be welcomed no matter when I return!!!