– by Devanshi Arora, Grade 8

“Where are you from?”

This question has been asked countless times, on multiple occasions.

But really, where am I from?

I am from my homeland… but where is my homeland?

Is it where I was born …or is it where my ancestors spent most of their life time?

This question has baffled even the smartest of people, who live away from their “home” and are temporarily staying in another country, of different beliefs and traditions.

“Where is my  home?”

When you come to a different country, you learn from that country. You learn it’s culture, it’s history. And if you live in this same country for long, it becomes a part of you, and you become a part of it. It becomes your home, your safe haven.

It is said that your home is where your heart is. Where you feel the most comfort, the most relaxed and the most at ease.

For me, that is not India, but it is Dubai.

So, why is it then, that every time I mention this, my family hastily attempts to change my opinion?

“Your home is in India! You are an Indian citizen!” they say.

But, after living in Dubai for eleven odd years, my answer has never changed.

When I’m asked the dreaded question…my answer has been and will be the same.

“I was born in India, but I am from Dubai, my home.” I’ll state.

                      “And that’s where I’m from.”

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3 thoughts on ““Where are you from?”

  1. Dear Mini,
    This question has always haunted me because I often feel sandwiched between the two worlds that have gone into my making. My roots can be traced to Kerala and that is essentially the culture I was exposed to at home. But then, I grew up in Bangalore, and to this day, when I visit Bangalore, the familiarity suddenly puts me at ease for I am in my comfort zone. And then I feel I have come home.
    However, the irony is that I have been living in Kerala for the last 7 years or so, and I experience with this land a connection I am unable to describe. So much so that I begin to miss this place immensely when I am away. I feel that our instincts which are passed on in our genes, are more aligned to the place where our ancestral roots lie. Simply because these genes would be the outcome of natural selection in that place. And so, when we are exposed to those elements (geographic or cultural) that characterize this place, our dormant instincts are evoked. Often, that helps us discover dormant aspects of our own selves, and realize our genetic potential to a greater degree.
    In summary, it depends on how we define ‘home’. If a home translates to familiarity and comfort zone, then it surely is Bangalore for me!

    1. How do I reply to this? Let me dig out something I had written a while ago: “Home has always been a fluid concept to me – abstract at best, fragmented at worst.”

      Grew up in and around Palakkad, in three places, changing homes often. Then went to Bombay, got married, then Tamil Nadu, Kerala… And finally Dubai, where I have lived the longest at a stretch.

      Acceptance. That is what I have learned. Acceptance of self, life. Of missing, yearning. And that I am a product of all these places, experiences. That I will carry all these in my genetic code – even the acquired traits. That all of these places have shaped me.

      And somewhere along the way, I learned to stop looking for ‘home’ outside – it’s something one carries within the self. At least, that’s how it is for me.

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