During my flight to New Jersey a couple of days ago, the person sitting next to me asked where I was from. When I told him I was from Michigan, he said "I mean which country are you from?
I said I am an American, and he goes again "well, you don't look like an American. You might be an American citizen, but my question is where you are really from"?
I said well, I am originally from India if that is what you mean.
He said "Yes. That's what I mean. So you are a foreigner".
I asked him "Isn't it true that most everyone in USA is an immigrant? Some are first generation and some have been here for few generations but, other than the native Indians, all have come here from somewhere else. In that sense, most everyone who lives here is a foreigner.
He said “Wow. You are right. I didn't think it this way since my families have been here for 6-7 generations now”.
It was a friendly conversation. He did not have any discomfort or attitude towards me. It was more like a friendly talk just to pass the time during the two hour long flight, entertaining and educational as well.
But it made me think. When I go to India, my friends and relatives introduce me to their friends by saying "This is my cousin/ relative/ friend from America. Or during some discussions about India, they might add “Well, obviously you don’t know much about India because you are an American”.
Does that happen to you too?
When I am in America, people think I am from India and when I am in India, people think I am an American. Which ever country I go to, I am considered a foreigner.
I wonder where my place is. Where do I belong?
And these lines came to my mind:
जिस भी देश में गए हम, अजनबी बने रहे
अपना कह सकें जिसे वो सरज़मीं कहीं नहीं
"Jis bhi desh me gaye hum, Ajanabi bane rahe
Apnaa keh saken jise vo sarzamin kahin nahin."