The other day a lady called NURA wrote to me mentioning that she felt alienated from her own culture because she was an “unfortunate NRI”. She felt that she was judged even before she spoke.[Reference https://anjalimenon.wordpress.com/2009/09/27/barack-obama-david-letterman/#comments]
It can be quite a predicament when one has lived in multiple cities and countries and identifies with different cultures as one’s own. I relate to that.
The plus is that one learns so much along the way but the minus is that there is no single place called “home”. When I grew up my parents were quite particular about inculcating traditional values in us and so we were brought up in that way. Yet there are evident influences from beyond that which create a hybrid sensibility – a sort of amalgam of cultures. Most migrant children would have the same.
But what I find peculiar is that, when we return to our roots – are we expected to revert and become some kind of son/daughter of the soil and leave behind our other influences?
To all self appointed judges – I refuse to be apologetic about my multiple identity as I actually like the different sides – am as comfortable with Chakkavarattiya Paayasam as I am eating a Shawarma or a Sacher Torte! 🙂 Besides, isnt the non-resident Malayali an important part of Malayali socio-economic culture? High time to get off those high horses and recognize the multiplicities in our own culture. After all, culture is simply a shared set of values.
I dont take myself too seriously so my usual reaction to criticism is a smile 🙂 I know my Malayalam- English avial is far from correct but lets hope it’ll get better with time- for the sake of those who put up with it!
But there are whole generations of immigrants’ children who speak like me and think like me and are like me. Some of who may not laugh off the jibes and criticism aimed at them – instead they discover the pain of rejection. Nura (mentioned above) seems like one such person. In this era of melting borders and fusing cultures, isn’t it time to accept our own? Isn’t it time to explore the mindscapes of such people?
With such ideas in mind, Revathy and myself threw a few thoughts at each other a few months ago. The result is that we are working on a film together – I am writing the film and Revathy is directing it. The protagonists are people who have ventured outside their home territory and found their way back. A warm romantic comedy.
I think it’ll be fun.