I could never go back to India and live there. I am not that person anymore. But leaving was probably the hardest thing I have ever done, leaving my family, and the culture, and the language—everything I had ever known. I was going off to live by myself with my mother and father, when I had been raised by a village of aunts and uncles.
You have this feeling of “Where am I?” Everyone is friendly, but that feeling of being a stranger in a strange land, especially when you are young … is powerful.
Integration was important to my mother. She didn’t want us to be in a tight-knit Indian community at the exclusion of everyone else. She put me in classes so that I could learn about Catholicism. I am Hindu, but she wanted me to learn about other religions. She didn’t want me to live in a world where I only understood my own experiences.
When you are a modern global citizen, you have a sense of belonging everywhere but not fitting in anywhere. You go from a place where these people were your whole world, to one where you feel some distance, as you’ve been changed by a new culture.
If you are financially secure and migrate as part of an adventure, that’s great. But if you migrate for other reasons, it can be frightening, especially if you have kids. Building a new life is probably one of the most daunting things anyone can do.