Missing India in Sweden
I have been living away from my parents and home for almost ten years now. I am more or less used to this now, and have never been this kind of a person who actually misses home a lot. When I left India about a year back, I did not expect to miss India. I was going to a place of my dreams, after all. Oh don’t get me wrong I love Sweden but there is something endearing about India as well!
I dunno what has changed or if I can put my finger on what exactly I miss. Of course, I do miss specific people. I also miss that I am not around to see my tiny nephews grow. I have the strangest cravings for some foods too. But that is quite predictable and expected I guess. What I cant explain is this strange feeling of Indian-ness that I miss. It is so difficult to explain cuz many times it is not specific things or people. I feel this the most when I watching a movie or looking at pictures. I really enjoy browsing pictures from this group on Flickr called ‘This is India‘. The group doesn’t have the most professional photographers or anything, or even the best looking pictures, but give a genuine feel of how it feels to be India. Bombarded by beauty, grace mixed with poverty, desperation and hope is just another day in India. What I miss are mundane conversations with strangers on the road, getting a glimpse into the life of a taxi-driver during a ride or getting advice on what exactly you should do your in life from random uncles and aunties, or neighbors giving you some tasty food just out of the blue or having professors who are super grumpy in class and super funny outside class!
I have two-three Swedish friends who are currently travelling in India. So I talk to them often and follow them on instagram. Again, it adds so much perspective. I mean the whole world is filled with different ways of looking at things and it is all so interesting. I like to be challenged in how I think and my perception of how the world works is fluid. After all as my friend quoted Heraclitus last week:
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
My friends also understand me so much better now that they have traveled in India. They have seen what competition means or what I mean by traffic and crowd, but also why inequality in India is so moving or why India is truly diverse or what I mean by you don’t need money to be kind. That sort of kindness is priceless and stays with you forever.
India then came suddenly rushing back to me when I was listening to this song by Lucky Ali:
The song brought back so many memories from my childhood and I ended up watching other such videos and talking to some friends I hadn’t spoken to in a long time. I am pretty sure every international person has moments like this every now and then! So I scroll through An Immigrant in Sweden!
After that I saw the Cricket-All stars match with my childhood heroes Sachin, Warne and Lara playing. Again was super nostalgic about it. My favorite moment was when Sehwag sang a song before hitting the ball for a massive six. haha brought back so many memories as well. Such a cool guy Sehwag. I really missed watching cricket.
So, is there a solution to this? Is there way to dealing with missing India in Sweden?
I met some friends from India who are studying in Stockholm and we spoke in Hindi and compared India with Sweden and had a lot of fun. There is actually quite a sizable Indian community in Sweden. SearchIndie is a start-up another friend of mine runs. It aggregates all Indian events, stores, movies etc. happening in Sweden. One of the biggest things that I miss is the street food from India. Oh man. I have eaten really unhygienic food during my time, and live to tell that more unhygienic the street food is the better is tastes! Anyway, there is quick-fix for that in Indian Street Food. It has really taken off in Sweden and they are pretty good you know. It is difficult to balance Indian and Swedish tastes when it comes to food in restaurants.
I spent an afternoon with another friend who did his executive MBA at SSE. He invited other Indians and we spent time with his family and ate only Indian food. Over the summer there was this program called IndiaUnlimited organized in Stockholm. It was insanely crowded and there was so much Indian food and all kinds of people came to the event!
My friends from Germany, Sweden, Canada, Ukraine, Turkey and everywhere else have also taken up Indian things like cooking and dancing. We organized a Bollywood dance night sometime in November last year and have regular cooking nights. It is really fun and I love talking about India with them 🙂
I also have a grocery store friend. He is Bangladeshi and owns Taj Mahal Grocery store in Stockholm which I visit often. I love small talk and absolutely miss it in Sweden! We talk about all things from education to politics and of course cricket 🙂
To be honest, I never thought that my connection to India would become stronger after coming to Sweden. I have loved India and fell in love when I was living in small towns and villages, but I did not expect that those experiences would have such a strong impact on my life and identity. I like the fact that I am allowed to have that freedom in the Swedish society. This freedom is priceless, no?
To find my own identity, myself and my place in the world.