Thursday, February 17, 2005

Today I woke up at the unreasonable hour of 9:00 a.m. because I had an appointment with my research advisor at 11:30. As I was barely recovering with a cup of tea and a most unhealthy Krispy Kreme donut, the phone rang. It was my advisor and she was cancelling our appointment! Oh dear, can this be true? I get the whole morning and afternoon to procrastinate?

Which I proceeded to do, by reading this excellent blog about food in general and Thai food in particular. She also has an excellent write-up about going back to Thailand on a three-week vacation and negotiating your familiar yet ever-morphing land as an outsider. I felt that it mirrored some of my own thoughts when I visit India, about the pleasant nostalgia and burgeoning optimism contrasted with disappointment over entrenched hierarchies.

I have eccentric longings. I rarely have the urge to watch Bollywood movies, or read South Asian writing. I seldom attend Indian events in my university or within LA. But I do long for a conversation in refined Hindi and Bengali. I get very excited when I see rustic Bengali cooking ingredients popping up in unexpected places. I wish someone would plant a gulmohar tree in LA so I can go and shake the petals off in summer (they would grow in LA, wouldn't they?). I love the Indian afternoon siesta followed by tea and conversation.

But maybe I don't miss as much as I thought I would, or as they told me I would. Maybe the possibilities of new interests, new sensations, a world different from the one I inhabited for long is very seductive. Or maybe, growing up Bengali in Delhi, I already made part of the transition of existing in multiple cultural spaces without necessarily feeling longing to be firmly anchored to any. But I still believe that a deep understanding of the milieu that shaped you is important for appreciating that which is beyond it.

3 Comments:

Blogger eeesh! said...

bappida's such a delight, isn't he? apparently, he's all ready to stage a comeback into the world of filmi gaan. radio mirchi, which is an fm station here plays this interstitial type cheez called 'bappi da ka gaan' where they come up with inane lyrics for known bappi songs in his awaaz.

have you heard 'oh kreeshna, eu aad the gretayst museeshan auf thees oaarld'???

11:21 PM  
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11:40 PM  
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