Missing India

By Isheeta Sanghi

After a visit to the FRO in Bangalore, a speedy two day trip to Delhi’s Ministry of Home Affairs, many police reports, thousands of copies of birth certificates and passports, and a penalty fee of 2000 Rupees, I was finally all set to make my journey out of the country, back to America.

I could not help but sense some excitement; after all it had been two years since I had left the country. New York has been my dream, (I think it is a lot of people’s dream – hence the crowds.) I wanted to live my life in NYC, meet the perfect guy, and live a perfect life. Ask any of my high school friends and they will tell you that I was the crazy girl that was willing to give up the San Diego sun for New York snow. I came to New York a few months ago, full of expectations, interning (for free!) with a magazine.

But I think things in the US have changed quite drastically or maybe it is just me. I find myself missing something. For the longest time I could not understand what it was. It’s not like I was missing my parents or was homesick, it was not that I was missing home cooked food (ok maybe it was that a bit); I was not missing the easiness of school life, lord knows I wasn’t missing the BSNL internet connection. It was something else, and I did not quite figure it out until a few weeks ago.

I was missing that excitement, that craziness that only India has. Do not get me wrong, New York is pretty crazy- but it is not India-crazy. I still can not believe that I am saying it and admitting it quite openly, but I guess I have come quite a long way. I miss India! I miss the smells, the crazy dogs, the crazy traffic, the noise and of course the everyday tamasha. I miss it all. I miss arguing with the auto rickshaw guys, I miss staring back at all those Indian men that stare and seeing them realize that I know they are looking. I even miss the annoying kids that wake me up in the mornings yelling at each other with their accented English as they play soccer outside my balcony. I miss it all!

I am waiting to get back so that I can just sit out on my balcony and drink a cup of coffee in the cool Bangalore breeze. I could stick it out longer here, and make a life for myself, but I know that I will be missing something- and that something is India. It is contagious, and once you get over the dirtiness, you realize that you are much closer to reality- dealing with problems like poverty, hunger, lack of electricity in the villages.

I am not going to go all Swades or anything, but I want to go back because I think I can live a much happier life in India. Here I see people of Indian heritage in New York that are shop owners in the subways, or that wheel around a kebab cart, or that are selling newspapers on the street wearing their salwar kameezes. And I am not going to lie; my heart breaks a little bit. Because I know that that is not what they had planned; those women who were once girls had not dreamed of getting married, moving abroad and selling newspapers on the street. Likewise, I did not forecast graduating, and coming to the States only to intern for free and go order people’s Starbucks. How long can you do it for?

My Dad and I (whom most all will agree) rarely see eye to eye, but recently it is been very different. So many things happened prior to me leaving India that said ‘Stay! Stay! Stay!’ and I remember feeling frustrated that I would never be able to get out of the country. I did not realize that I had already achieved the one thing I wanted in life, contentment. The supersize everything is not exciting anymore. I can not believe I am saying this but Starbucks really is not worth what you pay at all, and even though I still haven’t found the GAP factory in India, I can no longer justify spending $50 on a ‘Made in India’ shirt. I figure I’ll just go to Shankar Market, find the left over material roll and get it made from my favorite tailor.

For anyone moving back or thinking of moving back- give India a chance. It is a beautiful place, and the people are amazing. You need to give it time, look at things with humour (even in the toughest of situations) realize that even if one of your expensive wine glasses broke in the process of moving that you’re not going to take those wineglasses with you in your afterlife, and also, it is not India’s fault that it broke. Realize that what you should take with you are the memories of where you have been more than the material itself. I have finished up my internships, and am excited about heading home to India the cows, my roots, my family, and of course the craziness that truly makes India such a uniquely beautiful place.

HAPPY DIWALI!

Isheeta Sanghi lives in India but is spending a few months in the US interning in NY.

7 thoughts on “Missing India

  1. Poonam

    Ishita, you are truly an amazing writer….for someone so young you look at issues with incredible depth. Keep it up and when you publish your book, we can all be very proud of sharing your initial journalistic moments!

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  2. meena

    While this article is well written, i somehow do not think it rings true when you said
    “you realize that you are much closer to reality- dealing with problems like poverty, hunger, lack of electricity in the villages.” Being poor in India is not what your
    experience is and hence one cannot miss it.

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  3. Isheeta

    Meena, you are right I have never lived below the poverty line, and that was not my experience. And you’re right I can not miss that . Though lack of electicity is something that I have and do deal with :). I know it’s selfish of me to think of them as reminders, but those people that are living below the poverty line, they bring me closer to reality and make me realize that life is about living- the basics, food, water, health and shelter, which so many in still do not have.

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  4. Versha

    you write sooooo wonderfully, everything that you write really ouches my heart, im a big fan of you now,,,, and i ALWAYS look forward to more of your writings,,, thanks for the wonderfulest articles ever,,,, i wanna move to inida tooo!!! soooo badly,,, and i hope you keep writing, please do!!! 😉

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  5. neo

    My move to Bangalore in 2008 was a lot of things – but it was never dull. I got tired of answering all the questions my friends from the Bay Area kept asking me over email, so I decided to start a blog – neoindian.org.

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