NRI: Not Recognized Indian?

Now, this is something I have been wishing to write for over 2 years. But, the real trigger came about when I experienced first-hand what it was like to be an Indian in a foreign country. Before I begin, however:

DISCLAIMER: This attempts, in no humanely way, to appease to anybody and/or offend anybody for that matter. In simpler words: MY blog, MY opinions and well, MY experiences. You might choose to empathise with the sentiments expressed or completely disagree with them. Free will still prevails somewhere, yes.

Also, references might be made to characters who possibly sound like somebody familar, because they are indeed familiar. In case that comes across in a negative way, well, re-read statement one right above. Should satiate that.

Alright, here goes. Now, I have been an NRI on and off, and there were a  couple of things I really wanted to bring up and talk about.

  • Basics 101: NRI clinically stands for Non-Resident Indian, or any individual who lives outside of India but holds an Indian passport. Well, that’s the basis of this post.
  • Title Significance: Now, the new full-form provided for NRI stands to signify a meaning I have come to understand, seeing and being around various NRI friends.To be discussed later.
  • Talking about the ‘unspoken’: What does it mean to be an Indian who doesn’t live in the country? What happens to your opinions and perceptions about the country? Views on issues like poverty, education, resources, education etc.?

Yes, quite typically, NRIs are indeed a living paradox. They are the ‘in-betweens’, if such a word could be coined. Between those who swear to the country they inhabit, and those who have nothing to do with it. But, as an Indian myself, adopting the “NRI status” on and and off, where do I belong? Quite often, I find myself questioning my patriotism, even as I feel a deep tug in the heart as I sing the National Anthem. My country means a lot to me, but does it mean enough?

THEN CAME ABOUT A BIG REVELATION.

For the interim period of 8 months that I spent living outside of the country I knew only too well by now, I observed all the changes that had come about. As a 15-year old who now bore the tag of an NRI, there was a lot I missed about my country. Yes, I still did own an Indian passport, but I missed the people and surroundings I was familiar with. 

Wait, hold on. Weren’t you the girl that once claimed to have no attachments to people, places or things? To belong, and yet not belong? YOU ARE CONFUSING ME.

Okay, let us address that too. I may not be attached, but I do have roots. Who does not? Here is where my point begins. As an NRI kid, a lot can be spoken about the country, its politics and its problems. Read: Only problems, and random acts of goodness that prop up on social media. But, living outside of the country limits your understanding of what it is really like to live in the country, quite naturally. While I was serving my exile, I realised that many of my friends were bred and brought up in this alien country, occasionally making trips to India to visit their family members(mostly grandparents). They were Indians by nationality, but I felt a world of difference often making its presence felt between us. Now, you might scream, “How can you generalise the people of a country like that? That too, the world’s second most populated country.” 

EXACTLY.

Say, I didn’t know where these people originally hailed from, and randomly struck up a conversation with one of them. It might not be equivalent to talking to a stranger, but the familiarity cannot be guaranteed. Living and being brought up in a different country, even as an Indian, CAN NEVER BE EQUAL TO LIVING IN INDIA AS AN INDIAN. There, I said it. Save the remarks and eggs till the very end, a lot more is to come.

As an Indian living in India, I have lived with the country’s flaws and achievements.

As an Indian living in India, I have learnt to think twice before castigating my country and its workings.

As an Indian living in India, I have loved and accepted what my country has done for me, even if there is a lot that is yet to be done.

An observation of mine has been this; when we are outside of the zone that shelters us, quite unconsciously, we put all of our faith in another zone that offers us temporary refuge. And, when our time ends in that temporary zone, we end up seeking the zone that invariably takes us back. This reminds of a dialogue in the movie Airlift, where Akshay Kumar notes, 

“चोट लगती है ना, तो आदमी माँ माँ ही चिल्लाता है|”

Translating: On getting hurt, a person calls out for his mother only.” (in this context, his/her mother nation.)

You get the metaphor, right? If there is one home you can come back to, one place you will never stop loving and one country that will ALWAYS BE YOURS TO CALL, it is your native country. Which gave you all that you have, and which will see to it that you are never abandoned.

Your asylum, your permanent alternative.

Now, as I embark on another foreign journey, to a country that knew me only too well 16 years ago, I write this for myself. To act as a reminder, that no matter where I am, no matter what I end up doing, I shall always live it up to the country that was mine to call in the first place. The country that provided me asylum, when there was nowhere else to go. Yes, the country I shall forever be indebted to.

Most of us owe one thing or another to one person or another.

I owe everything in my life to one entity.  

And I, have finally accepted it.

When will you?

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