Monday, June 14, 2010

Hi! Where are you from?

I was born in my Uncle's house in Mulakulam a small village near Piravam which falls under the kottayam district, but is closer to Ernakulam. from what I can remember I spent the first 5 years of my childhood there and with my 2 Aunts in Ponkunnam and Cheruvalli.

Next, I take a train to Bhopal and spent the rest of my childhood till I was a few months shy of 17. So that's about 12 years in the heart of India, both my parents worked at BHEL Bhopal and I had 3 other siblings born during the time. Initially, I was a wreck, I wanted to go back to Kerala to the comfort of my grandma's bosom. It took a good 7-8 years in Bhopal when I got a sense of belonging. I made a few friends who I cared for and they cared back for me. I made a few acquaintances who were just there for their vested interests- I was a book worm, did my homework on time and they wanted to copy , that was pretty much it, no other reason. I lived in the BHEL quarters, a semi ghetto, a pretty hostile environment as we were outsiders ( madrasis) in the Hindi/Urdu speaking part of the country and natives did not like us being there. not only us, but there was an exodus of migration from all over the country to Bhopal due to the job opportunities offered by BHEL and other new industries. It was Nehru's vision to integrate the country. I childhood and early teen years were pretty rough dealing with the anguish of my migrant parents who had problems of their own and the hostile environment outside. But by the time I felt comfortable and could stand my own ground, it was time to move on.

In 1980, I left Bhopal for Mumbai. It was Bombay then, but I have no problems calling it Mumbai as Maharashtrians wants it called that way. After all, it is their land. I respect that. If you have read my earlier posts, you know it was a struggle initially- Culture shock, big city ( Bhopal was a small town) it took me a while to adjust. But it was not that difficult as I had made up my mind to stay put no matter what. Again, I was a stranger in a strange land. I became a man in this city. I learned to drink and smoke, fell in and out of love, developed relationships and I was bonding with the city. From Andheri to Colaba ( I always lived and hung out close to the sea) I felt at home everywhere, whether eating vada pau on the street or a fancy meal in a 5 star restaurant with a pretty lady. Latter part of my life in Mumbai, I was flying high - literally, I was a flight purser with Air India. A young lady who wandered into my life for a short period of time had a big part in that, she gave me the boost that I needed to become a man and take life into my own hands and hold my head high. Sorry, can't name names here for privacy's sake. Travelling around the world and coming back to do laundry and get a clean set of clothes and off again. It was a lot of fun while it lasted. Then the adventurer in me started nagging me to move on. And so I did.

New York- if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. I almost did not make it. I arrived here in 1992 with great hopes of making it big, in the Big Apple. My confidence and swagger turned into despair and disillusionment due to bad judgments and poor decisions. One has to be either really tough or lucky to make it here and I guess I was neither. As fate would have it, another young lady who I spent a good part of 2 years with helped me stay sane and focused and keep it together.Some how I managed to survive for 3 years,full of ups and downs and lots of uncertainties. Sadly, the lesson I learnt here was not to trust anyone. That brings me to Ontario, Canada.

I arrived in Toronto with a heavy heart and despair. I needed to hit the ground running and there were no other options. but with limited resources and thousands of dollars in debt, all I could manage was a below average start. I am still looking for that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. Independent thinking, luck, my mother's prayers etc turned me in the direction of education for a better tomorrow. Working 3 jobs simultaneously, continuing education kept me busy for the next 2.5 years. Then as luck would have it again, I find my soul mate and marriage happens. That would be the turning point in my life. exactly 35 years after I came into this world. Once again it is time to pack my bags and move, but before that I change my nationality, I am a Canadian, eh!. ( eh! is a popular Canadian way of speech- they finish every sentence with eh!)

Oak forest, IL, a small sleepy, bedroom community just Southwest of Chicago. This is home and this is where I sleep best. I have been living here for 11 years with my wife of 12 years who I love more than myself. She always teases me, I can only sleep well, if she is next to me, guess what is true. I can't get a good night's sleep if it is not next to my sweetheart.

I change my nationality again, I am an American now. Our children were born here and they are growing up, carefree, happy, secure and full of mischief. We live in a comfortable environment and have everything we need, almost a human being, one is never satisfied, they always want more.

So, back to the question: Where are you from? My answer is never the same, it all depends on who, where, when, how and on what context the question is asked. I am the little kid from Mulakulam who grew up in Bhopal, became a man in Mumbai, and live in peace in Oak forest, IL. however, I am also a New Yorker, and a Torontonian.

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