Thursday, 3 May 2018

New Girl In The City

It's been a month since we moved to Amsterdam. Often people have asked me why I have not written about this new experience in my blog and to be honest I was not sure about it myself. But now I guess I am ready to face my true feelings.

Let's first get over with the fact that the place is beautiful. When we landed here winter had just departed, leaving the stark silhouette of trees against the clear blue sky. And their canals are absolutely gorgeous and I don't mean the main tourist attractions like dam square, infamous red light districts or world famous tulip festival. They are quite charming and thousands of people seems to find them so, but what moved me the most was those nondescript pathways and calm canals away from bustling crowd. My first thought was," This place is perfect for a grieving lover!". I know that sounds silly considering Amsterdam is a place world comes to party but I thought the place had a touch of melancholy.

Before coming here I had done extensive research on Dutch people and wouldn't lie was a bit scared by what I read. "Dutch people are rude" came quite often in what I read, so I would feel guilty if I did not defend Dutch hospitality. I found them very honest and helpful people. Most of them are friendly if the situation arise for a conversation. Otherwise it's mostly like any other city where people are constantly running around with their heads and hands full!

But none of these felt exceptionally new to me mostly because after visiting UK last year I was accustomed to that initial "big" difference you feel when you travel from India to a developed sophisticated countries in the West. I mean the usual "cleanliness"," efficiency of transport", "technical advancement", "politeness and mannerism" these were expected. So for a long time I wasn't sure how I felt about living here. I thought I felt nothing.

A lot has changed since then, spring has arrived and with this sudden rush of life, a cloud seemed to be lifted from my heart as well. As a kid have you ever visited your rich aunt's or uncle's house? Do you remember how it was? Initially you try to  soak in all the differences, you admire all the finesse and comforts of the new house. Everything in their house was bigger and better, more comfortable and definitely better looking. And not to mention they were always very polite to you and tried to make you as comfortable as possible in their home. But, it was always "their" home. Somehow even as a kid you realize that nothing can make you feel as secure and comfortable as your own small rusty house, where no one cares if you turn the whole place upside down or if you break a vase or two. Even when your parents scold you for making a mistake, you never truly feel threatened from inside. So for the first time I understand why they came up with the term "Mother India".

I thought that when I left India, I would miss my family and maybe it's too early for that. I mean even in India, I would go and visit them only once in 6 months or so. And nowadays thanks to technology we can constantly stay in touch with people across the globe. But I never expected that I would miss someone who technically does not even exist. After all what is a country? If it is the people, you find tons of Indians abroad, you get most of the Indian food and products. Then what exactly is it that you miss about your country?

When I walk around here, I don't feel the same as I do in my country. And it is not because I am scared of anyone or anyone has said or done anything to make me feel so. It is as if there is an invisible force which keeps reminding you that you are not welcome here, you are only tolerated. I feel guilty to be here, as if my being here is acceptance that my country is not good enough. I know it sounds over exaggerated and would be shoved aside as initial home sickness, which is highly probable. After all this is a global era and people see themselves as citizens of the world. As someone once said, We must do what we must do. But I really hope that I don't ever lose this feeling, this pain I feel when I think of my country because this is what makes me who I am.