How Important are Your Roots? By Renu Gulati.
I am born and brought up in the UK and have lived in India for nearly the last 2 decades. I was going back and forth a lot until 2016 and then my travel ceased for personal reasons which I may discuss in another blog. Until 2016, I was hopping in and out of planes to the UK like there was no tomorrow. The funny thing was is that on most occasions I never wanted to go back to the UK but once there, in the main, I never wanted to come back to India. Furthermore when I was in the UK I never felt like a Brit and when in India, I never felt like an Indian. I was told Jawahral Nehru said something similar but I am yet to find the quote.
I did and do not identify with any race but at the same time, after 5 years of absence from my Mother Land, have a deep longing to be there but not there as it is now, rather as it was when I was there decades and decades ago. The new UK and the new India I see today are not places I would choose to live. I think there was no proper adaptation to these countries as they are today as I was not an integral part of either society but kind of lived in my own bubble. Maybe we all live in our bubble somewhat.
I have been playing the song ‘Don’t cry for me Argentina’ from the Evita Musical by Andrew Lloyd webber. Not only is the song beautiful, emotive and patriotic but I simply love the ‘posh’ English. I was for so long fascinated by the Indian traditions and languages but now I long for that elite English culture of which I was a part – both as a Lawyer and as a Student. I was breaking cultural boundaries all the time wherever I went. In the UK I was usually one of the first Asian women to be in the neighbourhood I lived in, the schools and universities I lived in and the jobs I held. In India, I was one of the first solo British Asian travellers to travel alone. My identity was adventure and breaking boundaries.
Now I find myself here in India, immersed in teachings of the Indian knowledge systems which I pined for in the UK yet I sit here and pine for a UK that no longer exists. For the purposes of practical and integrated living, both cultures seem alien to me with adaptation to neither. I live in my own ex-pat bubble in India with my social life largely on line with my old UK friends.
I noticed when I was working with immigrants in the UK as a UK immigration lawyer that they would get stuck in time