Countries Apart

It’s been a long, long time. The amount of time can’t be numbered. Well it actually can be, but it honestly feels like forever. It feels much more longer than what it has been.

Nearly two weeks ago, while chatting up with fellow students a guy asked me, “So, do you like it here in India better or Dubai?” And the speed of my response was that of the speed of lightning. “Dubai!” is what I blurted.
He was taken aback with how instant my response was. That I didn’t even blink my eye and just uttered my answer.

When I was about eight months old, my parents took me to this magical little country called the United Arab Emirates and I have stayed there for majority of the life that I have lead until now.

Indian by nationality, India is this place I’d come once every year or two years to visit my grandparents and extended family. A vacation spot you can say. A two month summer vacation would all be spent in a country which is my own. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

I never really formed an opinion about how I liked India as I never spent a good enough time to do so. But ever since a little kid, I didn’t really enjoy the time I spent here. I love my grandparents but the country itself never had much of an appeal to me. I never felt a connection. Well I was a kid, what more could I expect?

Growing up, I was surrounded with voices. Voices that held the words, “India is your home country. It is who you are. You love this country!” so tight, that these voices felt like it had an underlying honesty in it. And I felt like U.A.E. is just this temporary place that life had us stationed at. India is home you know? India is what I should love.

Should.
Should.
Should.
Oh how this word echoed in the back of my head whenever I started feeling affectionate towards the country I resided in. Whenever I’d see those news headlines. When I entered this country.
A compulsion to love a country only because I’m from it. And I felt guilty that I didn’t.
What can I say, I was a kid!

It was only when I started growing up, started experiencing things by myself and stopped listening to the voices around me that I realized – it doesn’t even matter. What matters is how I feel. And what I feel is something I can’t help.

I love U.A.E. I love the life we lived – I lived – there. It was a life I could call a life. Not what I’m leading here, living here.

The guy then proceeded to ask me what is it that I love about U.A.E. That makes it better than India. India is my home country you know? India is my home, how can I not like home?

Here’s what I believe. Home is where your heart lies. Home is where you can be yourself, unafraid of being judged. Home is this sanctuary where you are accepted for who you are and are loved without any strings attached. Home is where terms and conditions aren’t applicable. Home is where you are surrounded by family – a family that loves you for who you are.
And I found all of this not in my apparent ‘home country’ but in a country that housed me for an unaccountable time of my life.

U.A.E. was this place where I could un-apologetically be me. A country where people from all over the world live in unity, one of the very first things I learnt was that humanity comes first. Humanity is what is more important than that passport you hold in your hand which indicates your nationality. Humanity trumps everything.

I grew up with quite an open mindset. And I knew I had a so called ‘open-mind’ only after living here. Because up until now my thoughts and my mentality was something so frequently seen, I never knew it was such.
A country where religion or the state of India you’re from doesn’t matter, I grew up celebrating various festivals from all religions. I grew up with friends all over India and not only learning but also enjoying their various traditions and customs.
We all were different and we liked being different. We accepted it wholeheartedly.
I grew up in a country that was incredibly safe. A country where my parents and I never feared of our safety. A country so clean. And looking at the number of parks and beaches that are present you wouldn’t believe that it is actually a desert. Ha!

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Let us not even talk about the food and the malls there. It’s where I learnt that food is love, food is life.

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All I got in India is a sight of aunties who are professionals in stalking people and have mastered the art of poking their nose in other people’s business. All I got to see is this unimaginable amount of bullying done in a school, a school which is supposed to be a child’s second home. All I learnt till now is how in the end a girl is supposed to learn all the household chores and that you’ll receive a stink-eye if you don’t know how to by those around you.

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All I got to learn is how to keep my mouth shut because people here can’t stand opinions that stem from an ‘open-mind’. All I have observed is that it is very well possible to fake yourself in front of people. That it is possible to not only lie to others but to yourself as well about who you are. Faking who you are at the core only to please the people around you. To lose the essence of who you are because being nice to those aunties and nodding with whatever they say is more necessary than voicing those opinions in your head and demanding respect for who you are.

All I learnt is that it isn’t safe for me to step out of my house. All I have heard is how we can be divided according to our genders. A boy is a boy, a girl is a girl. There’s a box for everyone and you dare not break it open. After all, you are who you are right?

All I learnt is that perhaps humanity isn’t what comes first. Perhaps what caste you belong to, what state you belong to, which God is it that you follow is what is more important. That is what defines you, you see? Screw how good a person you are, I will form opinions about you based on an identity that you didn’t create for yourself but were labelled.
Labels. Labels are more important you see?

U.A.E. is the country where I found people who accepted me for who I am – this socially awkward girl with big dreams and a stubborn heart. A straight forward girl who isn’t afraid what others think of her. It is the country where my anxiety levels weren’t this high because I felt comfortable. I could be me.

My parents, who have lived here in India unlike me, today also long for the day when we could go back. They don’t feel comfortable here. I see a side of my mother I never saw before. She, she finds it hard to communicate with people here. To connect, to make friends here.
If a person like her, who always is the life of the party feels so, my state can’t even be expressed.

I will agree that there are exceptions in both the places. Neither of the countries are perfect. But this is how I feel.

U.A.E. is the country where my heart lies. U.A.E. is where I felt the most comfortable being me. U.A.E. is the country where I was accepted wholeheartedly, no matter how weird I was.
U.A.E. is where I could exercise my mentality without being judged.

U.A.E. is where humanity comes first. Not blood relations or nationality, but humanity. And humanity will always come first to me.

India might be my home country, but U.A.E. is what I will call home. I could be biased, after all I did spend my entire life there. An attachment will definitely be present.

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This is how I feel

Call it what you may but all I know is that while I have one foot present here, another foot of mine lies in U.A.E. When that trigger is pulled and that gunshot enters the audible range, I will run.

Run.

A Quick Look At The Past Three Years Of My Life

Hey-lo humans who are reading this poorly constructed post!

So as you all know, I disappeared for three years from my blog because of a little thing called life. And for those of you who don’t know – well, now you know!

There are plenty of questions in everyone’s head as to what is it that happened in these past years. Today, as the title reads, I’m going to be addressing just that.

So let’s begin from the start shall we?

I had to move to my hometown as we, well, had to move out. My hometown is this area which neither is a village nor town. I like to call it a town-village. I have no idea how else to describe it. Is this really a term though? Or have I coined a new term? Am I the inventor of a new word? Oh my God…..

I spent seven months there with my grandparents, my aunt and uncle and my younger cousin sister. Also this dog. Can not forget the dog. Ugh.
In the start I had few bits of le internet thanks to my younger brother’s constant whining and crying but I refused to use it largely because I had to save it up for him. Things an elder sibling has to do. Sacrifices and all for the younger one. Pfft.
I only used it to keep in touch with my friends (read : annoy the crap out of them) and things were going okay, until my laptop crashed. Big time.

No internet, no system – living those seven months was a complete torture to sum it up in a nutshell. So many people, no source of entertainment, so many people, constant bugging, so many people.
Yes, I said ‘so many people’ a lot of times. Why do you ask? Well, ┬áimagine a socially awkward girl among a whole bunch of people. Perhaps now you can understand how annoyed I might have been.
And I’m Indian. Add that to the mix. Now imagine the situation. Can’t? I never could either. Until I lived that nightmare. The horror *shudders*

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Seven months later, we moved to a different place. Another crappy place. We didn’t have proper water facility for goodness sake! No internet again but finally as we were staying by ourselves, we got a cable connection for our TV. So I spent time watching a lot of series’ again. Boy oh boy was I so happy!
I’d go around saying, “My name is Barry Allen and I’m the fastest man alive! GO FLASH YESYES!!” My mom would just stare at me in utter disappointment. She’d say, “You’ve started again. Why are my kids not normal?”
Quick forward to the present day – my mom loves The Flash. When I used to watch it on TV she’d go all, “Woah!”, “My God!”, “This is awesome!”, “He’s so fast!” etc. She loves Empire the most though. She was shook by the season 2 finale and started screaming, “WHY DID THEY NOT SHOW WHAT HAPPENED AHEAD? WHO FELL?!” When I went home and binge watched my shows, she asked me to tell her what happened and I showed her the clip. She then proceeded to ask my father why is it that he unsubscribed to english channels. If he hadn’t, then she could see little glimpses as I’d watch. I miss mom..

Back on the topic at the hand, I stayed there for around 9-10 months I believe. It was until my school wasn’t decided. And when my new school was decided and also our flat picked out, we moved out to stay at the place where I currently am residing.

How has my life changed? Well, I ended up having two gap years after my tenth grade. I completed my twelfth year in a span of three months and somehow managed to pass with decent scores! I made new friends who are absolutely amazing and have restored my faith in humanity a little bit
I know, I know. Me? Making friends? When did this miracle happen? Yeah, I’m surprised too. Life is full of surprises now isn’t it?

Currently I’m pursuing my first year in the field of Engineering in a college away from home. Hostel life. BLAAAH.
Finally a step towards achieving my dream has been taken and I couldn’t be happier! Yay!

Situations were horrible and we faced a lot of hardships. Life turned out to be nothing like we had imagined and majority of the time we all were just really upset as to how events were turning out to be. My brother wasn’t the least bit upset though. He just was happy he got to see Power Rangers………………

In short, life wasn’t the slightest bit easy. When we thought things are starting to get better, this storm would knock on our main door and say, “Did you order for a problem?”

Things are finally shaping out better now. I’m proud of all of us for managing to keep ourselves together and come out stronger from the experiences. I know that all of this has made me so much stronger, a level of strong my twelve-year-old self never imagined she would reach.

Things are okay. Life isn’t great but it’s okay. And I’m fine with okay.