My mum always said India would be different. She would say how wonderful it was to feel part of something or to feel like you belong somewhere. I would always nod as if I understood, but in the end, I had no idea what it felt like to not belong. That’s the brilliant advantage of being Canadian. Don’t tell her I said this, but my mum was right. India was different. It was a strangely personal experience that I thought was going to turn out quite differently. It’s been hard for me to write about what it was like because I don’t know how to explain it. Despite being teased my whole life for being a coconut, I felt more at home in India than I have anywhere else in my life. But I won’t bore you with the details of my feelings. Gross. I will say, though, it has greatly impacted my world view, and I sometimes wonder if all this will normalize. Being in Australia at the moment hasn’t really helped either.
Australia – It’s like America and Canada all smooshed into one! It’s a wonderfully multi-cultural, but surprisingly racially segregated (by choice – no Jim Crow here) place where I can’t say things like, “It’s cuz I’m brown, isn’t it?” because apparently, it is because I’m brown. Having been here for a month, I have to say, Melbourne has a beautiful charm. A friend keeps comparing this city to Montreal, and though I have vehemently disagreed in the past, I’m starting to see her p.o.v. Aside from the early bedtime, Melbourne is quite artsy. And the colonial architecture is quite gorgeous. We got shortchanged, Vancity. The city is full of great (and expensive…if you’re still unemployed as I am) eateries, and charming watering holes. There’s always somewhere new to go, and thus no need to go anywhere twice. Considering how far away Australia is from…well everything, it’s wonderful to see Melbourne’s appreciation for authenticity. Mind you, the poutine still needs some work. But in the end, this is not Canada, and I must say, I’ve never appreciated our “salad bowl” approach to multiculturalism until now. But I can’t blame Australia for my malaise. Only India can take the credit for that, a country that changes the lives of all who visit. Indian or not.