Written by Vaish. If you want to contact the writer or comment on this article, click here.
There is jasmine and nostalgia in the air, bright sunlight pouring in through the windows in the balcony, and the impending danger of my filter coffee growing cold under the ceiling fan. It is a very pleasant 28 degrees here in Chennai, India since I arrived in January and I don’t want to return to Eindhoven just yet.
I have finally come home in the right time of the year! The season of Margazhi (the period spanning end of December to mid-January in the Tamil calendar) has just ended. It is a culturally and spiritually significant month here in Tamil Nadu and my city, Chennai, brims with classical South-Indian music and dance concerts. Margazhi is also the season of resplendent Kolams, colorful designs drawn with rice flour, at the threshold of almost every home. This is the most beautiful month to be in Chennai, and I’m only too glad to escape the frigid temperatures in Europe.
As someone who was brought up in this coastal southern city, I have only known three seasons, mild and pleasant summer, hot and blazing summer and monsoon. So, naturally, when I moved to Europe 10 years ago, I fell hard for the Fall and couldn’t wait to witness the snow. And it was every bit as magical as I had expected.
It is not just the weather that couldn’t be any drastically different between Tamil Nadu and Noord-Brabant. There is a world of difference in the traditions, cultures, languages, beliefs, and even attires. I have come to realize, as an expat, the term ‘visiting home’ changes every time I travel in and out of India. It’s hard to feel rooted to two places at the same time. So much so that I can understand and empathize with those expats that go through severe cultural identity crisis.
On the brighter side, I enjoy the best of both worlds, I get to have two homes, enjoy two different set of friends and two cultures that I have come to love. It is a fantastic privilege that I have grown to appreciate over the years. In the end, it boils down to the choices we make. As a new expat, you can either grapple with the identity of ‘home’ or accept that you have two beautiful and vastly different ‘homes’.