This summer, a friend of mine and I decided we were going to make a short film about our home city- Bangalore. The project itself evolved from a desire to demonstrate a different picture and put out a different narrative about India, countering the usual, ‘cow-colour-caste’ narrative about who India is and what she embodies. However, it became so much more than just a filmmaking experience, because for the first time after going to college, I truly evaluated, for myself, how my relationship with home had changed, after I had gone through two years of changing, growing and (hopefully) maturing at college. Moreover, it was the most beautiful experience I could have asked for, because in ways, it provided the answer to the question that plagued my mind, as a rising junior who had returned home after living abroad: Do I really fit in anymore?
For the purpose of the film, my friend and I shot all the places we had grown up in - places that our five year old, ten year old and even fifteen year old selves loved. And through this journey, it was almost like I grew up and re-lived twenty years all over again. And, I rediscovered what the word home really meant to me.
We visited the open, road-side market place that, as six year olds, my cousin and I would run around in, giving our mothers minor heart attacks because of oncoming traffic. We visited the park that my family and I would take Saturday afternoon trips to, where us kids would run freely, up and down the hill (that as I found out this summer, is a geological monument), and the adults would sit together either at the bottom, or the top discussing the latest political news. We revisited the fancy office buildings that, as a child, had me absolutely fascinated with their height and glittery, twinkly lights. And slowly but surely, over the course of filming, I saw my childhood right in front of my eyes.
All of which begged the answer to the question I’d posed to myself as I stepped off the plane on May 31st, 2016, of whether I fit in.
The short answer: Yes. Always, and forevermore yes.
Because India, and in this specific case, Bangalore, is a land of the meeting of so many different peoples, cultures, generations, and traditions. Her energy moves and flows with yours and she incorporates it into her very being. And, no matter where I went, and how I grew, she would always welcome me home, with open arms and a wide smile, gentle eyes and love in her heart - because ultimately, that is what India is to me - love and compassion and a whole lot of energy.