‘A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving’ Lao Tzu
Movement and human migration is one of the key stories of human survival, existence and evolution. Thousands of years ago, Homo Sapiens wandered the earth in their search for food, water and shelter. Stories of failures and triumphs emerged as they chartered into new, unpredictable and often times hostile territories. The stress of competition in an ever shifting world meant that they were invariably thrown into challenging situations, faced opposition and encountered hardships. Tackling these new and difficult terrains compelled them to change and adapt in their struggle for survival. Those who made it, evolved into tougher, more organised, resilient and generally better endowed humans who went on to make new discoveries, celebrated victories and most importantly survived. The others perished.
Thousands of years hence, this story of human migration continues. Whether for economic, social, personal or safety reasons, as humans, our pursuit for greener pastures continues in our evolutionary quest for survival. This is evident each time we move house or change jobs, shift cities or even dare to venture further afield into a new country as we seek better opportunities and hope for a better life.
This is not just my story. At the heart of it, resonates the stories of the people who I meet and the experiences that I have as I step outside my narrow orbit to have a more expansive view of life. My journey serves as a unique passport to exploration where I feel as though I belong nowhere in particular and yet everywhere. Thus my sense of identity is not merely limited to the geographical boundaries of my birthplace; my ‘native land’ and the rigid cultural stereotypes that arise out of it.
My life journey began in my birthplace-India, the epitome of diversity. A unique melange of religious, linguistic, cultural and even genetic multiplicity. This is reflected in every aspect of Indian life. From culinary choices to sartorial sense, for Indians – variety is indeed the spice of life. It is not unusual to hear the tinkling of bells from a Hindu temple followed by a call for prayer from a neighbouring mosque, as India bursts into a kaleidoscope of diversity. Growing up in the midst of a medley of cultures, listening to the sounds and intonations of different languages, I learnt to constantly adapt, assimilate and change. Being bred in a world where heterogeneity is the norm and tolerance is a way of life, perhaps sowed the seeds for my lifelong desire to explore further. In a way, it emboldened me and prepared me to spread my wings.
In adulthood, my life carried me to England where like a benevolent mother, she embraced me into her welcome arms. I found true comfort and solace to make this my adopted home. Away from the crowds and chaos of India, I found my new life as calm and placid as the cool waters of our neighbouring Lake Windermere. With the arrival of the children, many happy and ‘first milestone’ memories of our young family were created here. As the children grew, we continued to bask in the contentment of our life here. I felt settled and deeply rooted in the British soil, until life handed me another chapter. An exciting job assignment for my husband transported us back to the land of new opportunity – India.
Bidding farewell to a comfort zone is never an easy task. However, with a sense of adventure in our hearts we took on the challenge to embark on a new discovery and explore the possibility of a different way of life for our young family. We seized the opportunity that life had handed us to introduce our children to their cultural heritage that was quite foreign to them. Paradoxically, for me, the roles had reversed as I bid goodbye to my home in Britain and strangely felt like an expat in my birth land! Repatriating to my motherland after well over a decade, I felt alienated as I experienced the changes (which I shall detail in future articles) that she had undergone during my long absence, or was it my life experiences that had changed me?
Two years later, my adventurous spirit carried me to nudge open another door; this time in the pristine shores of Singapore, my present abode. This ‘Little Red Dot’ continues to impress and grow on me as I discover that size does not really matter!
Like my predecessors, as I journey through life, I experience challenges, triumphs, laughter, tears and above all the paradoxical duality of interconnectedness and isolation.