Tuesday, July 25, 2017

There is no there there

A while ago, I decided that I would not seriously follow the news about the old country, and not blog about it either.  For a simple but deep reason: Increasingly, people there seem to be bent on doing all the wrong things.

 For one who is passionately attached to the old stories about the people and the places, it was a version of "I wish I knew how to quit you."  I had to cut myself off in order to set my own emotional boundaries, like how one does with an errant son or a daughter who is all grown up but is nothing but problems day in and day out.

I am not the first person to agonize over a place that is dear but also far away.  Nor will I be the last.  It is a never ending tale of nostalgia for us humans, from the moment that we wandered out of the Savannah.

In a post a few years ago, I quoted an article from The Economist, which carried with it a warning, presumably for people like me:
however well you carry it off, however much you enjoy it, there is a dangerous undertow to being a foreigner, even a genteel foreigner. Somewhere at the back of it all lurks homesickness, which metastasises over time into its incurable variant, nostalgia. And nostalgia has much in common with the Freudian idea of melancholia—a continuing, debilitating sense of loss, somewhere within which lies anger at the thing lost. It is not the possibility of returning home which feeds nostalgia, but the impossibility of it.
The impossibility of returning home.  Because, after all, home has also changed and is not what it once was.  There is no there there.

Life is full of twists and turns, and the best we can do is from this turn, walk on ...

There are times that the nostalgia kicks in.  Full force.

This time it was when I was riding my bike on a cool morning.  I remembered the years of bicycle riding in Neyveli--to school, to friend's homes, to the hospital when grandmother was getting treated, or simply biking aimlessly, which I often did.  And then the thoughts about friends who have drifted away, or from whom I have drifted away.  The friends who are already dead.

I returned home and played a few old film songs from the old country.  Whether or not music has charms to soothe a savage breast, it certainly does soothe a nostalgic heart.


Ramesh said...

Oh - I understand every bit about this nostalgia. Its a powerful emotion. Thankfully, you have internet these days when you can listen to the song from Gharaonda. Imagine those who went by ship in the late 1800s and early 1900s to South Africa, or Fiji or Jamaica . Wonder how they dealt with nostalgia.

By the way, why do you fell that the "old country" is doing "all wrong". Its the usual mixture of the good and the bad and no different from what your country is doing presently. So blog, my friend. I have to argue with you on the "old" as well as the "new" country :)

Sriram Khé said...

I don't want to say never ... but, I am not keen on blogging about India.

Because, for one, most of the time it will be critical, like how many posts of mine are. Often, in the past, even you have stayed away from commenting on many of those kinds of posts that were not favorable towards the contemporary political economic landscape in my old country. Further, it is also the critical posts on India that attracted the annoying human troll, and I have no time for the Hindutva pro-Modi idiots bugging me.

So, I will merely keep at critiquing all things America and trump, which has successfully kept the Republicans away ;)

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