Saturday, September 04, 2010

Journal Entry: The Question of Return

Saturdays are special, not just because they come once every five days. By that definition, Sundays will be more special, because they appear once in six days. But Sundays are rather lazy, even the God felt tired and slept, because, particularly if you are in Britain, most shops operate on an absurdly short schedule.

But Saturdays are far more active, and though I usually spend a good part of the day shopping and stocking up for the week, it is still my time to plan for the following week. Sometimes, the planning horizons are longer, and issues on table are too complex to be decided upon immediately.

This is one of those Saturdays. The key question I am grappling with is whether or not, and when, I shall be able to return to India. This appeared a no-brainer even a few months ago. I was in a dead-end, thoroughly unsatisfying job, which involved travelling to India once in a few months. An additional dimension was added by the racist abuses I had to endure, ever so often, inside my own workplace, to which my employers decided to turn a blind eye (or make some lame excuses if I ever brought this to their notice). The only obvious way out was to head back to India and start my life all over again.

This did not eventually happen. When I eventually walked out of the job, I decided to linger on in the UK to complete my studies at the UCL. As one thing leads to other, I eventually ended up signing on for a longer course of study, and landed up with a better than expected opportunity to work and set up something new in Britain. Three months into this, I am rejuvenated and can see an all-new possibility again, an opportunity to undo all the frustrations of my last three years; and, not just that, but starting and establishing something truly remarkable.

On the other hand, I have started losing touch with India. It has been a while since I spoke to the contacts I made, as I wanted to allow my former employers, despite the deep anger I felt about the treatment I received, a fair chance to establish the business after I left. This was a difficult decision to make, but I concluded any ongoing conversation involving me is invariably be, and be seen as, meddlesome. While I started building a new set of connections, and starting reestablishing some I lost over time, this meant putting the plan of return on hold for a while.

All I did in India in this period is set up a business in Mumbai, primarily led by my brother than myself (I acted just as an advisor and facilitator, in return for some equity), and committed myself to act as a liaison for this business in the UK. Given my hands off involvement, this business has been shaped, over last few months, by the people running it rather than by me, and the principal objectives got moulded accordingly. So, even if I initially envisaged participating in this particular business as a possible way of facilitating return, by now, I am as distant as I ever was.

So, today, I was forced to think what I do next. It is already quite clear to me that I can't go back to India for at least another three years, given the commitments I have already made. What I am forced to think about now is whether I can even go back after these three years, given that I am building a life from scratch in the UK again. In three years time, my identity will be here and I shall possibly not have any ties with India at all, except family ties. This will become ever more difficult to find my way back.

But then, I close the day with one clear answer: I must find a way to go back. Some day. It does not matter what opportunities I get, but I am Indian and will remain so. My British passport can't alter my colour of skin or who I am, and as identity is important to me, I shall only find my space and myself in India. My days of stay, this exposure, will all be important: I learn an enormous amount everyday and I am sure this will all be helpful when I go back to India and try to do something. But I have to put a time - as of this moment, I shall put it at 30th June 2014 - when I must go back. That will mark my ten years here, ten years of being in a self-imposed 'exile', time enough to immerse myself in a way of life as I wanted to. But I shall look forward to 1st July 2014, when I shall start my efforts to build a life in India all over again.

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