Sunday, July 28, 2013

(Geographical) Identity Crisis

One of the most difficult questions I get asked these days is where I am from?

This one innocent question triggers a debate in my head. Calcutta? That's where I was born and brought up, that's where my parents stay and that's the place I go to during my vacations. But I relate to the city much. The homeliness of Calcutta for me is really limited to our house in the city.

OK, maybe I am from Rajasthan? - my native place? It explains my roots best, because calling myself from Calcutta is akin to calling myself a Bengali for more people than not. But wait, I have never really lived there, nor have my ancestors for some generations.

I have stayed close to 5 years in Mumbai / Navi Mumbai. That's a city that's been closest to my heart. It's the attitude of the city and it's people that I have resonated with so much. If you have lived in Bombay for any length of time, you know what I am talking about. But it feels factually wrong (and perhaps, wannabe) to say I am from Mumbai. Also, before moving to Pune, it still made some sense. But now who knows if I might have been done with the city for good.

Truth being said, I have practically been a shifter. It's been so long since the question of my geographical origin had a simple answer. When I was a kid, I had some friends with parents with Indian Railways or other Government jobs, who had had to move a lot because their parents got transferred pretty often. Whenever someone asked them where they were from, they would break into a monologue about how they have lived in a new city every second year. Back then, that kind of lifestyle had seemed so out of league. Now, it's been more than 8 years for me having left Kolkata. Creeps me to admit I am a part of the same league.