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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Professor Sen's talk has had me thinking for days. He made some incisive comments about the issue of identity, about why and how we feel for some places not others. It is a given that multiple identities exist.

I can only speak for myself in this case. Despite having left India 10 years, the sights, sounds, smells immediately evoke the feeling of home. In Mulund, Mumbai, its the aroma of the flowers, the cheek to jowl bhaji wallas, the saree shop. In Ahmedabad, the mere thought of the old city, the colours of the fabrics, the dusty drive into Vastrapur, the pot holed one to Vejalpur, makes me crave for a cup of IIM chai. In Dehra Dun, from Turner Road to Rajpur Road to the Ghosi Galli - it's like a sunshine walk. In Chandigarh, the quiet of Sector 36, the immediate connect of the 22 market to the posh stuff at Sector 17. I'm equally at home it each of these places. All of them are defined by their special moments, events that somehow mark my identity.

I'm feel equally at home at Orchard Road, at Serangoon, at Bukit Timah and in my former estates - Bukit Batok and Jurong. Even within a single city, there are various dimensions to my identity. Some days all I want is Chicken Rice, Char Kway Teow or Dim Sum. Most other days, its jeera paratha with homemade daal. On rare occasions, its a French treat.

As I flit between places, I long for home. Though I'm often torn by the question - where is home now? You've been away so long does India really mean home to you? Yes, because there is family there, I've grown up there. The same holds true for Singapore. There is family here, we've all grown up together with our children giving us major lessons in life. So it is that we have emerged like those little Russian dolls, that Professor Sen spoke about. Different yet sort of same simultaneously.

Could that be why we gravitate to the shopping at Mustafa, the food at Go India or the Bollywood beats at Rupee Room, even though at Clarke Quay your choice could be anything?