The flight is due to land at Indira Gandhi airport of New Delhi and the plane is travelling across the large city, passing through the thick layer of clouds, smog and pollution. When the plane is close to landing, the whole large metal cylinder is filled with a familiar smell or scent of India, something that others might find repulsive. But to me it’s filled with memories, emotions and a touch of belonging. Tears are filled up in my eyes when the plane hits the ground. I’m home. Once again.
The hotel we stayed at isn’t worth mentioning due to the overall experience wasn’t all too well, but there were some highlights of the service level and staff that is worth mentioning. The two nights in Delhi were a good touch-down base before our onward departuring to Punjab. You get a moment of acclimatising to the Indian climate, food and the senses get hightened.
I have been writing a lot through the years about belonging and identity since it has always been a struggle for me, being born in Sweden and having roots from such a colourful culture that is India. The clash between these two extreme worlds has been both a blessing and a curse, since it has opened me up to so much inner personal development I never would have been striving for if it weren’t for being torn in two directions. I have previously written about being a TCK in a world of being around people that have almost no other mixed background, which makes you feel different and strange from time to time. When I during the recent years found myself searching more inwards in my own identity crisis and started to accept that I am fine the way I am, both Swedish and Indian, I was able to grow strength to be able to tell my story. I felt for the first time that I was able to connect with other people that have a similar background, and my creativity became more heightened.
The last day at the Delhi hotel, we ate dinner in the restaurant at the hotel to be a bit more convenient and also to not have to rush around in Delhi traffic at that hour. No matter if we choose to or not, we eventually adapt to eating at Indian times, which is quite different than dining times in Sweden. Back home in Sweden one would eat dinner at 6-7 pm and lunch at 11-12 am. When we’re in India the dinner times are around 8-9pm and lunch around 1-2pm. I think it might be due to the fact that people go to work a little later on and leave later, which makes the whole day shift a few hours.
When we were dining at 8 pm at the hotel, the waiter asked us if we were from Sweden since he could see it in our booking. Obviously he could tell we had some sort of Indian (desi) background so he asked if we were here for the first time. I responded, no we’ve been here many times before since our background is from Punjab. He asked if we were born here or in Sweden, and this is where things would have been confusing if I were to trust my past experiences of being put in a box. His response to us being born in Sweden, was the sweetest I have received in India in a long time. He said, then you’re just as much Indian as you are Swedish and he smiled and giggled a bit. I agreed and he went on to talk to other guests in the restaurant. He probably didn’t know what that sentence meant to me, how much it meant that someone would acknowledge us as being part of this society and still be able to keep the other identity. He truly saw our Indian soul. We didn’t have to feel torn and puzzled between the two cultures. Not being forced to choose when someone asks us which one we consider our home, or which one we like the most. There can never be a clear answer to that question, I am always searching, and the more I search, the more questions I get.
The best part of being born in two cultures is the richness it gives to my life, to be able to live a life with both influences on a day to day basis. To be able to pick and choose (most of the times) what we like with each culture and keep those aspects in our life for the next generation. Coming to India annually means much more to me than can be put into words, it can never be explained, the emotions that run through my body when I land 7000 km away from Sweden. Despite being more restricted to do exactly what I want as a woman, to come and go at any hour, and having difficulties adapting to the lifestyle here; I still feel more alive and free. There’s a freedom and acceptance in the air in India one cannot find anywhere else. I might be biased, but that’s my truth.
Sat Sri Akal, Namaste, Peace and Love,