There has to be a word for that feeling you get when you are living in a foreign country and you feel disconnected from everything. Loneliness is a part of it, homesickness too. But to attempt to define it in these terms would mean restricting it, somehow, and not getting to the heart of the matter.
This feeling is known well to many Indians in the US of A, in particular. It manifests itself in many, many ways. The craving for Indian food strikes, but the only recourse is to go to a restaurant where the price, of course, is listed in dollars. Indian movies? Well, either rent one or if you’re living in a hi-density Indian area like New Jersey, you could catch it at the multiplex, whereupon you can then boast that you saw Yuva on the same day it released in India! The list can go on.
But this is only a superficial discussion of the matter. It is a lot more than just the food or movies you are used to. It is a sense of place, a sense of being rooted, I guess. There are no memories associated, for instance, with New York when the average Indian software professional moves there. What there is, is a realization that you are two days away from the place you call home.
Ultimately, it comes down to the question: Where is home? After even a couple of years of rootless living, of living out of suitcases, of cheap pizza meals, too many flights, too few meaningful conversations and too many loads of laundry, it does strike you somewhere in your brain as you swipe your credit card at yet another retail outlet: where is home?
Unfortunately, for some of us, the answer to that question is still in the process of being reached. For others, it is quite all right to call your new place (with the mortgage and the swanky SUV out front) home. For others, it’s a little more complex than that. For some of us, even if we make enough money, even if we are inducted into the hallowed zone of US citizenship, the answer still lingers somewhere just beyond our reach.
This is particularly true of those that come to the US not solely to stack up the dollars, but also because they are curious about living in a foreign country, seeing the world, traveling and experiencing the different things that wonderful country has to offer (however absurd this may be to the more ‘practical’ of our Indian friends in the USA). As you sign the lease on your new apartment with the wonderful view, you wonder: is this really what I wanted? Where am I?
I would say, let’s look at the flip side. Because, if you don’t belong anywhere, then maybe the answer is that you belong everywhere.
Dedicated to a friend of mine, somewhere in the US. You know who you are…