August 15, 2014: The interesting part about being a half Indian is that most people refuse to accept that there is a possibility of such a divide. Indeed, politicians from both Bangladesh and India will be happy to inform you that once you go one way, unlike “persons of Indian origins,” your Bangladeshi fate is sealed, if not culturally, then at least in your citizenship.
Regardless, I have been lucky enough to call India home for four years, despite the migrations caused by Partition to both sides of the family. Funnily enough, however, I had never been to Mumbai until 2012, even though I had long been mulling over the rulesets necessary to embrace life in the subcontinent, and particularly to the country that shaped my formative teenage years.
On the way to the VT station at Churchgate in Mumbai, during a short research visit which brought me to the country’s version of New York City in 2012, I noticed that the main doors of the carriages on the train were open, allowing for the much needed breeze to cool passengers down, as they sat with their children, their purses, and their bangles, attempting to catch the wind on the loud ride into town.
The image of the young mothers sitting in the doorway, cooling to the breeze of the tracks as the train whizzed towards downtown Mumbai stands out to me as a celebration of the homage to multitude promised by India, and since today is Indian Independence Day, I wanted to celebrate with an image and a wish that is truly Indian:
Here’s to hot pakoras, chai at dhabas off the roadside, hot idlis with sambar, even the hijras on the train from Delhi to Aurangabad, Groverji’s hot bun omelettes on a cold day, the shimmering waters of the Golden Temple at sunset, the reclining Buddha in Ajanta’s caves in the dimmed light, the winter line of Mussoorie and the clouds we walked through to get to class during monsoon, the elephant temples in Mahaballipuram at dusk, the white water rafting in Rishikesh, the green marble mountains in Jabalpur, the laid back cafes in Bandra, the clear waters of Nainital on a pretty day, the Ganges snaking across the plains of the Doon Valley, and the amazing people who have made every single step of every single moment in your parts a memorable occasion, and created an insatiable thirst for adventuring in your parts, and discovering more, never being disappointed by what you gave back, because you always gave back.
Here’s to you, India, for being incredible long before tourism branding campaigns deemed you so, for remaining incredible long after despotic imperialist rulers attempted to fragment and scatter you, and even more so while dynastic leaders and uneducated roadside Romeos continue attempting to cripple you.
And here’s to you India, for teaching me that the most beautiful part of living is through experiencing what we don’t understand entirely, and making me proud of being a halfie-Indian on an almost daily basis… Vande Mataram to all my Indian friends and family!
Ma tujhe salam, today and always.