1998-1999. I had recently moved to Delhi with my parents. So many things were new. Opinions were new, I discovered I had them, I was allowed to state them and no one said, "You can't say that because I am your father."
The biggest shock though was calling "seniors" by their names... In the army, everyone is aunty or uncle, even those just two years older to you. In the 'outside' world, you were judged by what you did, the stories you cracked, not by who's daughter you were.
The outside world was also not as protective as dad (or the army). I wasn't 'baby' anymore, no one was there to collect me from school. Older men weren't scared of my dad to approach me. Older women weren't maternal figures anymore, they had claws. I developed mine. I learnt to use the public transport system, to haggle with autorickshaw drivers, to not trust older men, be wary of older women. I longed to validate my identity, my existence.
I wanted roots. My roots. Delhi rooted me. Hah, literally. (grin) Jobs, houses, friends, lovers, attitudes formed, morphed, lost...gained. Heartbreaks, promotions, scandals (oh yeah), pets!, vices, gods... Everything was new, everything was different, everything was to be learnt, discovered. Ten years went by.
2008-2009. I have recently moved to Australia. So many things are new. Opinions are new, I have had them, I am changing some of them. I'm learning to respect other opinions as well. Of course, sometimes I forget. It's funny how from discovering you have opinions, we grow so possessive about them to let go...
The biggest shock was calling someone else's parents by their names. Toughest was calling Partner's parents by their names. Strange was when at times Partner would refer to his parents by their name!
The world outside India (and the media) is not the same. I am judged by how I adjust, what I learn and un-learn, by what I bring to the plate... Not by the stories I've done, the bylines I collected or who's girlfriend/wife I am. Both my press card and my Indian driving license mean nothing. My passport and the 'India' on it is my identity; legally and in many other ways. So far that is...
Oh yes, I also eat cow and am not in hell.
After 10 years of working for the best media houses, I've made sandwiches for people and cleaned tables. My resume has so far been worthless; even for getting a job at a bookstore. :) Friends, associates, attitudes, vices, interests are forming, morphing... No promotions or scandals (yet). Lover remains the same. :)
I moved so much in India, then moved out of India and now... I am stepping over boundaries, geographically, mentally, hell even physically. Like piling on kilos (hrmph).
It's like a dream. Things and places I read about in Readers' Digest and National Geographic, saw movies about, read in fiction novels... Those things, places, people are real. Real enough to touch. feel and taste (er, not the people).
I am happy and I am humbled....AND we are flying to three awesome, awesome places on Sunday evening. See if you can guess them?