It is now 10 years since I have been living in Singapore. It feels weird to realize how many years has passed so quickly.I never ever thought in my wildest dreams, I would ever be living outside India for such a long time. Well, how would I describe my experience and how it has helped me?
It has been an indescribable experience. On many levels, It has helped me to open my mind more and to think more globally while being local.
Challenges of living in your natural home is testing by itself. Knowing the sort of temperaments, people we Indians are, calling and making fun of people other than our state, the ever going conflicts and conflagrations, the competitiveness and yet, the harmony, the fun, the joy of sharing,..it is something indescribable. No amount of staying anywhere outside will give you that feeling. That feeling of pride when you are back where you belong. The smell of the dust, the sand, the rain, everything, everything is so precious.
You become more of what already are. You become more of your homeland. The passion and the pride increases. Absence makes your heart become fonder. More sentimental. Something which people who have not stayed outside would not understand. And you do your best to hang on to this feeling, as this is what will help you survive in a hostile environment, a lonely environment.
Whereas, my unexposed and narrow minded mentality may have made me make fun of people’s faces, their customs, their attires, their languages, their rituals, now I am far more perceptive, I find meaning in what different peoples do, I learn to love them as they are. I am no longer just me, in my own narrow little space called home, I am global, i belong to the world, to the humanity. Barriers break down.. you feel more. And as you connect with all those different from you, you grow and you expand, the narrow limitations of parochialism dissolve. you see everyone around you as you.
In addition, you see and learn things which you can pick up and implement when you go back home. After all, life is about learning. If you get some good in life, share it so that others also benefit. One of the things which has impressed me the most in Singapore and I am indeed, indebted to the system here, is of how they encourage reading so strictly amongst all. They are foresighted enough to understand the importance of developing your mind. The libraries are my second home, my resort. They are the main reason I have managed this 10 years.They have some of the best libraries i have ever seen, excellent collections. The libraries are open all week. You can see how much people love reading here. Reading is essential for your ability to think, to reason, to reflect, to stretch your boundaries. Therefore this is a blessing and l ice saver. My reading has been my salvation.And I would love to help out in spreading such measures at home.
When you are living away from your home, it makes you more aware of your home and what you love and cherish most, things you would have taken for granted when you live there. Those memories are so painful, and so sweet. They can come in anytime of the day and knock you over. Grappling with those memories while living in the present is a challenge. They are omnipresent and ever challenging you, questioning you. They are the constant reminder of how meaningless an existence you are living, when you are living away from your roots. They are the permanent reason for you to come back to your home. The presence of social media, exacerbates this. You feel like a loner out there, living an existence devoid of what matters most, as you communicate with those who are staying there, you feel envious, sad..How do you combat this? I don’t know. Maybe combat negative feelings with a positive feeling? Find a reason to find your life outside meaningful. Use that as a light to lead you home.
One thing I learnt while being on social media was the amount of negative mindsets out here. I realize people hate NRIs, think they are something who have stolen something belonging to them. I was shocked and disgusted. I have had so many relatives who are NRIs, when i was residing in India. Yea, i would love to get a chance to go the places where they have been but would not wish them any evil.But on social media, I have seen and read unmerited and outstanding abuses of NRIs by even educated and intelligent people. Bhai, NRIs ( middle class ones) are out there because they are qualified and they have earned positions on on basis of merit, not on the basis of paying for their jobs. They are earning their salary just like others do at home, maybe working more harder and under rather stressful conditions (jealousy, race specific treatment,) And they do so for the sake of their families. If you see something wrong with that, then I can only feel sorry for your narrow mindedness. Go to an average NRI home and you will just see the same family as they would be in India, Maybe living even more simply, scrimping and saving for a better future.
Narrow mindedness and parochialness are the sins which drives human beings apart. I am not sure that this will ever go from India as long as politicians win elections on the basis of race/religion/community factors and as long as people tend to think in terms of their states and their languages and all and caste system exists. Yes it is very important to be proud of our heritage and our roots, but more importantly, you have to realize, you are only a dot in a sea of a 7 billion plus human residents on the earth who are part of the whole biosphere. See where you stand:
Be Local, Think Global. That is what living outside has taught me.