The spirit counts!

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

 

Lost Chances

I was six years old and I had a lot of time on my hands to play! Daddy was in the army and we lived in the apartments for officers. I used to play with the neighbours children but they weren’t always nice. Sometimes, they bullied me. I felt intimidated by how talented they were in school and how well they played ‘doll’! In those days, we made paper dresses for our dolls. Hundreds of them in a day! You could make a paper doll and then cut out dresses for them. We used to decorate them with colour pencils and crayons. It was addictive and Anna my neighbour was awesome at creating the prettiest designs…at least that’s the way I saw them.

I had another friend who lived across the fence in poorer apartments. I would go visit her regularly even though mommy told me not to! Her parents would treat me like a princess whenever I visited. They would clean their house in a frenzy, offer me their best chair (they only had a couple of rickety ones) and serve tasty sweets. Harika was shy, but she adored me and I truly enjoyed playing with her. We would play tag around their house and make doll dresses and laugh away to glory till it was really dark. Then her father would walk me to the fence where I would say bye to them and go home. It was wonderful.

And then, my mother took a break from her job and was around all day and evening and it became harder and harder to go visit Harika. We were also posted out and were to leave for another city in 2 weeks! Somehow in the last few days I only got to play with my neighbours and I didn’t miss Harika so much. Then, it was suddenly time to leave. On the last day, My neighbour Anna gave me a hundred doll dresses that she had made and some toys. I felt finally accepted by my neighbours and proud. While I was hugging them and saying my goodbyes, my father gave me a shout to see who was coming. Harika had walked with her father to come see me one last time. She had made a little doll out of cloth and cotton. It looked a little out of shape and was in patchwork. She came up to me and gave me that doll and all my snooty neighbours giggled and laughed at her.

Embarrassed, I took the doll from her and said, ‘is that all? You came all this way just to give me this?’ Her eyes suddenly filled with tears. She quickly said good bye, grabbed her daddy’s hand and started walking away. I have never felt so ashamed and guilty of my actions before. I quietly got into our car and let my parents drive me away. I wish I could have apologised. I wish I could have run after her, hugged her and thanked her for being my friend and giving me such a wonderful present. It was my greatest regret to be cruel to a true friend just because some cool kids were watching.

From that day, I have always been fiercely protective of all my friends and steadfastly loyal. Maybe it is my way of making up to Harika.

Written in response to the daily prompt: Explain your biggest regret – as though to a small child.