What makes people unique is their individual experience -all that the world has exposed them to and how they have perceived it. It is the only thing that sets us apart from any other human being.
One such thing that we all perceive differently is our community. For a person that has lived in the same town for their entire lives and gone to school with the same bunch of people, community has a completely different meaning to a person who has been on the move forever.
I’ve lived the life of a nomad and loved it! My dad is an officer in the Indian army and we moved so often that I can’t even remember half the places we’ve been to! I do know that I’ve been to nine school in twelve years! Being an only child, I found the moves exciting; a chance to make new friends, start over, learn about a new place and reinvent myself. It was always fun! There were occasional turbulences while growing up as its harder to make friends with teenagers than it is with kids but that was still a minor inconvenience in the face of all the adventures!
I loved all things new and in my case, my loyalty was always to the people I loved. No matter where we moved, those few loved ones would always be there for us and keeping in touch was a priority. My second loyalty as a child was towards the Indian Army. By virtue of being an army officer, my father was a patriot, but, he never overtly tried to instil the value in me. It just came.. It was a constant in all these moves just like the people I loved.
When I grew up and left home to go to college in London, I was heading to a new place and there wasn’t ‘a community’ to come back to as my parents continued to move. So when someone asks me where do I come from I say India. But if they ask me where in India, my answer always has been, ‘my dad’s in the army so we moved around a lot…’. No single city was ‘home’. Home has always been where the heart is.
Spending seven years in London made me Londoner. I love the city. She helped me find myself and welcomed me into her culturally rich arms. Will I ever hesitate to say ‘I’m a Londoner’? No, because I am. However, the city still isn’t home. Home is not a place for me. Isn’t that funny? Home is the people I love and these people are spread across boundaries in Europe, Asia and the US. No wonder I especially hate immigration laws! 😉
So, I have the ‘where do you come from question’ nailed and I have the ‘where do you live’ question answered but I think people are very confused with my ‘where I belong’ answer. Its my definition and the human race wouldn’t be where it is spiritually if all our thoughts and feelings were bound by trivialities like space and time!
I moved to Detroit after marrying my husband earlier this year in April. It’s been a great experience – Americans are friendly, welcoming and fun people! I’ve loved their involvement in their local football and baseball teams, their local farmers markets, people paying homage to local products as opposed to the chains. Its a great community feeling. I got into ice hockey for the first time and I now follow the Red Wings team. I’m a part of this community right here in this old city in the United States. However, to me the larger human connection is ‘the’ community. I can respect other peoples local loyalties wherever I move for two reasons: it means a lot to them and I’ve always been a polite, respectful guest. I also feel attached and loyal to local causes no matter where I move. However, I believe, people tend to forget that the values they commit to in their own community are only stronger if they stay true to them irrespective of whether they are at home or away. We are all bound to do more for our own, it is our nature; but all people everywhere are our own and community service is a human value not a local one.
I write this as part of the Daily Prompt: Community Service