I never imagined volunteering myself to stay in India longer than three weeks. My parents had brought me to Chennai every single year of my life. The images of India I had always conjured included countless mosquitoes, power outages, and sweltering heat. I’ll be honest. I didn’t like it.
But after the demise of my grandfather over the summer, and the realization that I could graduate from UF a semester early, I decided to use my free extra spring semester to give my grandmother company in the haunting and historic house we affectionately call “Ekamra Nivas.”
Of course, there have been some been some selfish factors at play as well. Over the years I have actually grown accustomed to life in India, and I thought the best way to see if I could ever bear living here is by immersing myself in Chennai for a few months at least. That, plus, I lined up two internships: one at CNN-IBN’s Chennai Bureau office, and another at The Hindu, India’s largest national newspaper.
I skipped graduation, said goodbye to my friends, and for the first time in my life, after traveling across the world more than 30 times, I made the trip alone. Until just a few weeks ago I had always made this trip with my parents. As (bad)luck would have it, this was also the first time it took me three days to get here thanks to a three hour delay in Detroit.
When I (finally) arrived in Chennai airport, for the first time I thought “I made it. I’m home.” Yes, home. Never over the course of 20 years had I said that before. I suppose that 21st year gave me some perspective.
I’ll be spending the next few months here working alongside Indian television and print journalists….living with my grandmother and servants who have seen three generations of the same family blossom….immersing myself in a culture which I’ve never identified as foreign, but one which I have had to deliberately work to make my own. I give you notes, from the motherland.