Have I been to India?
“Where are you from?”
“How is our Indian food, too spicy?”
“How do you like India? Better than America?”
“How long are you here until?”
“Will you come back?”
These five questions are the most common questions I am asked when I meet someone new here. I could write essays on the best and worst foods of Bangalore. I could write numerous pages on the impossible comparison of Bangalore to the United States and the frequent comments I get from Indians about being unable to get work visas in the U.S., and about Trump. Instead, I would like to speak on the last question... will I be back? My immediate answer is “yes, of course!” But then I think about it and with graduation and the start of a new job, when will I have time to return to India? And is it really India I want to come back to, or is it Bangalore or Thrissur or Mysore?
As I compose this blog post I am having an identity crisis, but it is less about who I am and more about where I am and where have I been for the past few months. I briefly picture myself on the world map as one of 12 million people in Bangalore, or one of 252 million in south India, or one of 1.3 billion in India. These numbers are too big, and thus I have decided that I have to stop telling people I am studying abroad in India. Because really, India is one place with different identities. There are 29 states, 22 major languages, more than 6 religions over 3.3 million square kilometers of land. So, no, I haven’t been in India… I have been in Thrissur, Kerala where I attended a baptism in the native language Malayalam and dipped my toes into the Arabian Sea. I have been in Hampi where I hopped upon the rocks along the bank of the Tungabhadra River and admired ruins from the Vijayanagar Empire. I have been in Mysore, a key City along the silk road, where I toured the wealth of the Mysore Palace. And then I realize, these places all encompass south India.
However, as I continue to think on it, Bangalore is my home…Bangalore is where I am. Bangalore, where I travel from Benson Town to LBS Nagar every day to APSA’s dream school. Bangalore, where I admire the sky filled with prehistoric birds that explore their freedom amidst trees and buildings. Bangalore, where I return to after a weekend trip and sigh as I fall into the comfort of my
I have barely gotten a taste of India. I have City hopped throughout the South, but Bangalore has become my home and I do want to come back and visit my favorite places. But I also want to go back to Thrissur and explore the jungle. I want to experience the history of Hampi again. And I want to experience the culture of north India. It is no longer a question of will I be back, but one of how many times do I have to come back to feel like I have been to India.