by Aditi Mehta – Managing Director
So many of my friends go to India on a regular basis to visit family, travel, and shop. My family’s trips are a little more rare, but this summer I had the opportunity to go back after eight years. Every time I’ve been to India, its been an adventure. I had no idea what to expect this time around. My last visit, I was 18 and fell in love with the site seeing, the movies and clothes. I bonded with my family, learned about my roots, and was absolutely devastated when it came time to leave.
This time was different. Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time. I visited the beaches of Goa, traveled throughout the city of Mumbai, took in some amazing food, and shopped my heart out. I was able to visit with family I had not seen in years and learn a little bit more about my parents and their childhood. It was an experience I would not take back.
But India was so much harder than I had remembered in the past. Maybe, I had grown older, become jaded or just pickier. I admit, I had my pretty princess moments. Why is it so hot? Why are my feet always dirty? Why can’t I get Wifi? The bathrooms! The beds! The mosquitoes!
As much as I had changed in 8 years, so had India. Mumbai seemed to be bursting out of its seams in every corner. The population seemed overwhelming as did the constant barrage on my senses – the lights, the colors, and the smells. Much of the time, because my Hindi is so poor, I was confused and dependent on others to get around. I hated that I could not communicate with many people around me and was angry at myself for not learning Hindi. In a country where people look like me, have names like me, where my parents grew up, I felt so out of place and lost.
This was also my first trip to India without either of my grandfathers. Both had passed away and I had one grandmother who is now 86. India without my grandparents was much harder than I thought. Though I stayed with aunts and cousins, I did not quite feel at home as I have in the past. My grandparents had done so much for me every time I came to visit and now the void was very noticeable. It was a weird feeling to know that my ties to the country had already greatly diminished.
This overwhelming feeling was hard to fight as I boarded the plane home. As time goes on, the number of direct relatives I have in India will continue to decrease. India will cease being the “motherland”. My “motherland” will be wherever my parents are – most likely Texas. When I go to India again, I may not have a home to go to. I’d be a visitor, a tourist, an outsider. Visiting India would be no different than my visiting Paris, China, or South America. India for my kids will not be the India I knew and experienced.
I do hope that this was not my last time to India. There is so much of the country I have yet to see. I am not sure when that will be or how that trip will turn out, but India will continue to be a part of my cultural heritage even as it ceases to be a home. I will always cherish my Indian Summers.