Since I’ve come back, I’ve been struck by the lack of enthusiasm on my return. In fact one of the most frequent questions I’ve been asked by family and friend is, Why have I come back? I’ve always given similar pithy answers that I recently gave to my dearest friend, ‘Because I belong here’.
My mother poignantly pointed out that I went to America, 9/11, tech crash and the housing market collapsed. Now when I have come back, the Indian rupee and economy are crashing as well. There is a term called ‘panvati’ used in Mumbai referring to a person bringing bad luck, so the term might be apt for me.
I can see the reason for despair in India. The economy is in shambles, people are being killed for standing up for truth, women are harassed/raped, jobs have disappeared and the country is in the hands of people who don’t know the meaning of Raj Dharma. There was a time when my ancestors would spend their lives dedicated to acquiring knowledge while begging for food, as earning money would take them away from their quest. Now everyone’s standing in life/marriage is how much you make and how you show it off to the world.
I’ve always considered myself a pessimist in life. The general trend is people growing up as optimists and then turning pessimistic as life wears you down. Now as I ponder over my actions of the last few weeks, I see myself going in the opposite direction. I’m being more optimistic. But the question is what to be optimistic about?
If you see BBC’s ‘Story of India’, the one thing that might strike you is historian Michael Wood’s infectious exuberance every time he talks about India’s past dedicated to acquiring knowledge. What if you change your life back towards acquiring knowledge instead of material gains.
When I went to America the economy crashed but by the time I was ready to leave, the economy was flourishing again. So this ‘panvati’ might have the same effect on India’s economy. We just need to follow the path of dharma.
In a moment of megalomania, I’m now changing my pithy answer to what Skylar Grey croons in her song. I’m coming home because my kingdom awaits.