Is the Indian diaspora really confused about their identity? We often used ABCD (American born confused desi) for an Indian who grew up in America—and I challenge that. I really don’t think they are confused. The really confused person is an NRI, someone like me— who grew up in India and then moved to live in America.
The more I got used to life in America, the more my ways and thoughts became American. I planned vacations specifically on long weekends, I said thank you or sorry to everyone in my way, and I was holding doors for people behind me. One of the biggest fears that followed me around was: what if I get stuck between two worlds—not fully American and not fully Indian either. As much American I was at work or otherwise, I still wanted daal for dinner, and I still pronounced schedule as schedule instead of skedule.
When I moved back to India, after 13 years in the U.S., I felt that I couldn’t fit in with the people around me. Everyone seemed to have moved on from when I left india. My sister coolly spent money in a way that I couldn’t fathom. Rs 600 for a couple of icecreams, Rs 8000 for a dinner were amounts I was not used to spending in rupees. I was eating dosa with my hands and others were using forks. I was confused—where do I stand? Am I Indian, or American, or an Indian-American-Return, or what?
The more I thought about my identity, the more I was confused about who I was and who I was becoming. As time passed, and as I met and spoke to more Indians and more NRIs, I realized that I understood both worlds very well by now. I not only knew life in America, but I also sort-of understood the type of lives Indians in Europe or Australia might be living— having travelled to many countries. I understood urban Indians and a bit of rural Indians as well, having travelled deep into India’s villages. It soon dawned on me that I am creating a new identity for myself—that of a global Indian citizen.
It’s been incredibly helpful. I love my country for its abundance and I also love America for its opportunities. I am grateful for all my experiences. I can walk into any room and mingle with any kind of Indian. I can drink bitter black coffee in the morning, American style, and dip a Parle-G biscuit into my evening chai—and be comfortable with both.
Crossposted from: Indiaspora, where my article was first featured: The feeling of being neither here or there, solved!