Outsider In

It is a strange feeling, being back in India. I still have a few months to go before I come back for good or the two promised years, but my family is back here. I have a few (!) loose ends to tie up abroad and I too will be back to the desh.

It is an odd experience, for in some respects, I am more Indian than the ones I left behind – or rather I am as Indian as the ones I left behind, but am more Indian than the ones I have come back to.

This is something we used to hear about the migrants of the sixties, especially the ones from Punjab. When I was growing up in the eighties, the joke was that if you wanted to find the values of the sixties, you should try to find it in the Punjabis in the UK.! They seemed to be stuck in a time warp, with their bahus who covered their heads and their daughters who had to wear salwar kameez when they left the house and came back (we all knew that these girls would not have spent the day in that odd gear).

I find, in my first few days, that I am the only one who is not constantly frazzled or loud or pushy. I think I still remember how to be all of these things, but it is not my way of doing things. I still have patience. On my third day here, I find that while the constant sound, noise and voices do get to me, I still manage to find a quiet moment to calm myself. I am waiting now for the first string to snap, for snap it will.

Any bets?

I say, 6 days. That is how much time it will take me to start talking like a local. The short sharp burst  of the definitive , the staccato of gyan irrespective of knowledge, and the clear instructions given to perfect strangers: I shall join in very soon.

So Delhi, be warned. I grew up here, so I know how it is done.