On a ride back home, our teenage son’s casual remark ‘I don’t think I am an Indian’ caught our attention. My son’s reasons, he did not know Hindi: Understandable coming from Tamil Nadu where it’s not the everday language and efforts to make him learn as a second language failed as circumstance killed his interest.
Secondly, the fact that he cannot handle the heat (Used to Chennai heat, spoiled by Jakarta temperatures and not able to handle Vietnam summer). It was an exciting conversation, but it brought up the question of where is home? When we were planning to move countries, those who had already moved spoke about the ‘Third culture child’. So who is a third culture child? It is somebody who is not sure where their roots are when asked the question where is home for you?.
I was born in Bariatu, Ranchi ( that’s in my passport). After about six months, my dad’s job took me to Pune(Maharashtra – six months), Nuzwid(Andhra Pradesh, one year), RUHSA(Vellore for about fifteen years). USA for a year when I was 5 yrs old. My college studies took me to Chennai for five and a half years. My job took me to Bangalore where I spent the next three years of my life. After getting married, my husband’s job took us to Gurugramam for a year, then Chennai before we finally moved out of India to Semarang, Indonesia. Next stop was Jakarta,Indonesia, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and currently in Hongkong. So where is Home for us?
Home is where people go for their holidays. So during, recent holidays when my husband said he was going home, people understood it as India when my husband meant Vietnam. An unexpected job assignment from my husband’s company required him to move to HongKong immediately. With my job and my son’s school commitments, we decided to join my husband on a later date. There were speculations that my husband may have a Vietnamese wife as they could not understand how Vietnam can be home for Indians. The reality is he has an Indian wife and son who called Vietnam their home then.
Today having travelled and moved countries we are grateful for the opportunities and experiences life has offered us… some unique to those who choose to move… visiting countries is exciting but learning the culture of a country staying there makes us a better person.. we learn tolerance… we learn to respect each other in spite of our differences… we honour each other’s traditions and culture…
Today trips to India are exciting to meet extended family but the flight back is what we look forward to as we are going home…
Challenges of making a house our home…
when moving countries
- There will be a lot of giving and taking – be clear on your priorities.
- Decorate the house in such a way you would want to live there; however, short your stay is. During the transition, I make the houses we stay still feel like a home.
- For more extended stays, buy items that reflect your personality but be careful that you don’t regret it in the next move.
- Comfort for the mundane is a priority. I needed a second refrigerator to store my Indian spices and groceries. I went ahead, bought it. Sold it on the next move; don’t kill yourself trying to manage without it.
- There is a constant “taking stock” of what we want vs what we need. We draw a balance by getting some items we want but don’t need, while others may be required but we chose to live without them.
- Connect and make friends. For us, church is where we get connected and feel at home. The challenge is trying to belong, but over time we figure out and have developed skills unique to constantly being on the move.