Where Are You From?

Many times, I keep postponing a post have because I want it to be as perfect as it can be, re-working the draft multiple times, in my head and in the WP editor. This makes about one post materialise for every ten writing ideas that I have… Exploring a new format where with some posts, I publish a largely un-re-worked first draft, in a new category called… Quickies. :P :)

Greetings! :)

Where are you from?

Do you find it difficult to answer this question? I do. When people I meet for the first time ask me this, I usually take the easy way out and answer purely geographically, leaving out all elements of culture from the answer. It was in Delhi, at Humayun’s Tomb, that I realised that my answer depended on where I was. Growing up in Bangalore, I would answer ‘Kerala’. After I moved to Mumbai in 2012, I was from Bangalore. On vacation in the north earlier this year, I answered to a friendly stranger at the tomb, ‘I am from Mumbai’. Two seconds after I said that, I realised that it was the first time I said that, ever. The term third culture kids (TCK) has, wherever I have come across it, has been applied for kids who have grown up in a country different from that of their parents.

Formally defined, TCKs are people who have spent a portion of their formative childhood years (0-18) in a culture different than their parents’.

Disregarding the qualifier of upbringing in a second country, those with upbringing like mine, within a country as diverse as India, in different states, do face a difficulty in identifying themselves as belonging to one specific culture. We are, if to be specific, national TCKs :P :) Such an upbringing has its greatest positive in early exposure to multiple cultures, which in my case enables me to read, write, speak or understand to varying degrees a plethora of languages. It, perhaps, cultivates an inclusive attitude, which is from my experience an underrated trait to possess in both personal and professional spheres.

Unfortunately, ironically even—and this holds true for me and perhaps most TCKs—despite all the inclusive outlook, the most significant set back is feeling out of place in all associated cultures  and feeling at home in none. Oversimplifying my case, I am not malayalee enough to be considered a Keralite and not Kannadiga enough to be considered a Kannadiga. I often joke that I speak English with a Malayalee accent, Malayalam with an English accent and Kannada with a Malayali accent. Hehe. :) Surprisingly, I felt at home most in a much distant culture, one I adapted to only a couple of years ago, when I moved to Mumbai. Now, I am back in Bangalore, trying to set up my career in East  Asia, a region I am so much attracted to.

As I write this, I am travelling back to Mumbai for the weekend, powering through the 25 hour train ride with a book and two cropped-maan3.jpgpower packs. Hehe. :) The book, ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson and David Relin, was actually unputdownable until I tweeted about it. I was then told that the several claims in the book have been disputed, which is sad, really. More on that book in a different post, may be :)

Featured image: Taken by me at Gokarna, Karnataka, 2011.

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