Saturday, 15 March 2008

...It's as if I'm playing with fire...

A lot of people have been asking why my upcoming trip to India has me so nervous.

I'm just over a month away from visiting all that I left behind as a young child. I find that no matter how much I try to explain the feelings of displacement, confusion and cultural isolation that have taken over my life in the past 12 years or so, no one will fully be able to understand the extent of it, unless they have experienced it themselves. And to date, I can only think of a handful of people in my life with the exception of my family, who can relate.

I've been reflecting on the manner in which my life has changed since I left India all those years ago. I've been lucky enough to have received an education in a post secondary institution and post grad institution. I don't think I would have been as fortunate were I still living in India. This is simply because of the fact that there's no such thing as student loans there. And besides, the dollar carries you a lot further here than a rupee carries you in India.

There's a lot more advantages to having moved to this country. Although, at times I wish my parents had decided to make the move when I was much younger. Maybe then the transition wouldn't have been as difficult. Then again, I don't really know. All I can vouch for is the fact that over the past decade or so, life has dealt us a lot of curve-balls... and I think any immigrant family can relate. It isn't easy for the child and it certainly isn't easy for the parent.

However, I think it is harder for the child who has lived half their life in another country and is forced to adapt to a new culture. I know for me, it was very difficult because I had been brought up on a very different value system for the first 10 years of my life. When I moved here, I was forced to abandon all that I had learned and take on a new system of beliefs - one that would help instead of hinder me in this society. And I realized quickly that my accent wasn't the only thing standing in the way of complete integration into Canadian society.

I can't say that I have fully grasped it yet. I don't think I ever will. I find that everytime I do anything in this world, I am constantly drawn back to my 7, 8, 9-year-old self and am left second guessing my moves. I think it can't be avoided simply because we're catering to so many different aspects and people in our lives.

We have our parents who see things one way... our siblings; who take on different aspects of our society's culture in an effort to survive or simply fit in... our friends; who may or may not know what you've been through and don't understand your manner of thinking unless you sit down and reflect or explain it to them.

I find that I'm constantly having to defend the fact that I can't go out every weekend because I can't afford to spend 10-15 dollars to get into a club and then top it off with 8-10 dollar drinks... without feeling absolutely guilty. Usually the guilt comes on after the fact though.

I am learning these days (and I was wondering when it would happen) that a night in with a boardgame and bottle of wine is a lot more satisfying than going to a club where the odds are, I won't even meet anyone interesting, will probably come home with blistered feet, have to cough up an extra $60 for a cab and so forth.

I miss my childhood in India terribly. I saw how my older cousins and their friends spent their time. Value was put more into dinners, drives around the country, walks around town and indoor activities that bonded people for longer periods of time than simply one night.

I don't regret the few years when I went out every weekend. I think everyone has that period in their life. Maybe it will surface again when I'm older and get into... well, older clubs. But for now, I'm content with reverting back to my peaceful weekends that don't include wondering how I'm going to make it back home at 3 a.m. Maybe this too might change when I am more financially secure.

All I can think about when I spend money is the fact that there's a great amount of student debt waiting for me once I finish off with school... and that terrifies me.

Still, I have friends that I made upon moving to this country who could be in the same boat as me in terms of finances. However, unlike me (a basket of nerves at the thought of having to pay it all back... and fast!) they are able to move on through life without a single worry, anticipating that a day will come when their loans will be paid off. But because that day isn't today... why worry?

Somedays I wish I was like that. But as I said... I'm not built that way.

Anyway, so I guess after all this... it comes down to the fact that I'm terrified of going on this so called vacation. I fear that this trip will either reinforce the fact that I miss the pace, the smells, the summer laze, the fact that no shops are open on sundays and that traffic literally means competing with the stray dogs and cows on the roads.

On the other hand I also fear that all that I remember from my childhood might just as easily be an illusion as nothing will be the same as it was.


** Please click the "home" tag at the bottom of this post to see a related post I wrote last July!**


  1. Is that your childhood home, Simi?

  2. thank you for your words of wisdom. they were very thoughtful and much needed.

    you really should have a column!

  3. how exciting to return to your place of birth. i'm obviously not an immigrant, and though i have read extensivly on immigrants in Canada, i cannot fully relate. don't be scared Simone. you will probably learn so many new things about yourself; a new appreciation for who you are. be brave :)

    ps. vanessa made me get facebook. add me, since i can't find you!


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