life, random thoughts, Shanti, travel

what to do when you miss home

I woke up yesterday morning missing India. I’ve missed India in an abstract way over the last four months, of course. I’ve missed Indian food, and missed my rhythms and routines and missed my friends and missed the books I left behind.  But I wasn’t missing any of those things yesterday. I was missing India, the place, the place where I knew where I belonged (most of the time). I missed India as a place that was home. 

Old life

I’ve talked to lots of people about where I’m from since I started university. It’s one of those inevitable questions that is always going to come up. I have got my answer down to an art now. First ‘uh, that’s a hard question.’ A pause. ‘I was born in New Zealand, but I’ve lived in India for most of my life, and I moved back for university.’

They often tell me that it ‘must have been interesting’ growing up in India. I agree, and have a few anecdotes to talk about which get the right kind of response, that doesn’t alienate me too much, and makes me look ‘normal’. I remind people that growing up in New Zealand would probably be ‘interesting’ to many other people around the world.

I talk about Indian food. Most people know Indian food, and this makes my background more accessible to them. Most of the time, I manage not to launch into my spiel about why the word ‘curry’ irritates me. Often this makes me feel hungry.

I’m not very good at leaving places. This is because I like to think I’m somehow about nostalgia and sentimentality. I don’t think I did a good enough job of saying goodbye to India. And yesterday, when I had found my feet in this new place and found my own routines, and found a lot of things which I like about living and learning here, I finally had the space to notice that enormous grieving hole within me.

New life

I miss India even when I belong in Aotearoa. I miss India even when I’m eating naan and chole. I miss India even when I’m speaking Hindi. This is me, acknowledging that loss.

I don’t think there’s an easy cure for this grief, and I don’t want one, because I’m afraid that if I stop mourning India I will be less Indian. But I do miss hearing Hindi. So I’ve decided that during May, I’m going to try to watch a Bollywood movie every week.

Will the movies make me roll my eyes? undoubtedly. Will I watch without subtitles, even though I love subtitles? yes. Will this provoke further blogposts? probably. Will they make me better at Hindi? i can only hope. Will they stop me from missing India? no way.

I think I’m going to get a prime video subscription for a month, mostly because I want to watch another TV show that’s on Prime, so hopefully they have Bollywood, otherwise I’ll try and find a netflix account I can leech off. This is a Project. This is a Concrete Thing I Am Doing To Hold On To My Identity. I don’t know if it will help. But in the spirit of experimentiation….bring on May.

So I’d love some Bollywood recommendations if you have any! (ideally they would be in Hindi). What do you do when you’re missing a place? tell me in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “what to do when you miss home”

  1. Shanti that is such a beautiful post. It dropped right into me like a stone into a still pond, still ending resonances and rippling across my psyche. Beautifully perceptive about connections to place poignancy of loss, yearnings to hold on which we all. have- I do…
    …. but you do need to proof read. (yeah so do i)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. YES to everything you mention here!! I’ve had this problem studying at Oxford this year and I feel like I’ll probably have the reverse problem once I go back home to the States…. I’m going to miss Oxford so much! It’s hard feeling like you belong in more than one place simultaneously. If only someone could invent teleportation ASAP! πŸ™‚ Lovely post!

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  3. This is such a beautiful place and teh feeling of “home” is something I’m struggling with at times. Home isn’t necessarily a place, it’s people too and sometimes it’s just hard to know where home is, or missing home when you actually are supposed to be in that very place called home. That’s complicated. I wish we could be in two places at a time or something. I hope you are having a lovely time in New Zealand and at university ❀

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  4. I think my mom has heard my rant against curry at least three times already.

    Thank you for sharing deeply.

    My roll call of watchable Bollywood movies (a very low bar and some of these still just barely barely make it) is:

    Hichki
    Secret Superstar
    Dangal
    P.K.
    * Hawa Hawaii
    Satyagraha
    * Tare Zameen Par
    * Three Idiots
    Chak de! India
    Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
    Lagaan
    Hera Pheri

    Starred ones are head and shoulders above the rest, though Hichki might come close.

    Also, the first half of “Lion” is easily the most accurate depiction of India I’ve come across in a Western film.

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    1. I try Jon! I’ll see which of those I can watch…they’re all so long and I’m now regretting committing to this after getting ankle deep into a bunch of netflix shows…but I will persist hey. I also feel like I should watch Om Shanti Om, just because….

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  5. This is such a beautiful way of describing how many of us, expats, feel. I absolutely know what you mean.
    I live in England, I love England, I feel I have become a part of my local community and consider this country my home….. but… I’m from the Czech Republic. I think I’ve never felt more Czech since I have stopped living there. I miss my language, my family, but above all of those, I miss my country. I also miss those common references to my childhood only my Czech peers get (referring to certain local events, people, movies).
    It’s this divide in my heart that will always be there. I’m choosing to live in England, I’m choosing to not live in the Czech Republic… and I love where I live but I do miss my country a lot too. I cry my heart out every time I hear my national anthem… πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

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