L P S D ACE L P D h rsatisshnamuria ch weta s le katie i kri victo lter sh houg roshn thy lina a hab c k m. o a tkar re bhishe ura a n. a ni arab lchanda ng mu ne cha kita arle a s. ni il neh h nikh iiam sha raman . sub hael k itya mic n h ad sri dio ikrishna shr
eh ah n mu a sh krishna lter sh t i k i n a sh gl alam sati o alina b chou m tach ushiar a e h h e r bhis karle ho h azitaictoria c n. a andani ch hy v uratkar t r s h eta araba . rosi arl w m ul tie k ishe dan . n e ka shni m h abh ulchan neha s bra ro g ne . g u m m ni chan ikhil s el k. h han ha ikris ne c nikita s ra lene hah n micha shrikr a sr ven . b y s t i u s s a d a a riram ha dity iram ikita aniam khil niam a s itac h a a sr nki h ni
i r na enk ne m v halam h az h krish lina alte e kati s i c a t a it ita sh ar sa cho a hougl hni nik houshi ictoria ehab c m. ros g n ita urthy v atkar r hishek cha nam eta sur a n. ab arlene hil su w k sh e arab ndani ah ni a sh cha mul s. nikit m a neh m a n i a k. b r a hael ditya mic n h. a h n a dio r i k r i s halam g s h nkitac neha s e m v ta shah r sati niki oushia murt ita h krishna ia ch sh victor thy a alter in o al eta sur shw ar reh atk hou ab c kat gle ra tie a n ba
01 SEP 2009
A Collective Storytelling Experiment
tes n d q u ot h e a s e i r ross n sto ightee y people ac id. If e f o b e d tion collec placed.com much as w . a s i ds 01 as ies olume bmitted to ding these ion of stor V d e c u t rea lec Dspla ve been s enjoy re this col u a o h y t a e a p th sh We ho ee to globe. do, feel fr you
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Dsplaced illuminates a universal palette of emotions that individuals often spend a lifetime trying to decipher. But most importantly, Dsplaced is an experiment in collective storytelling â€“ and it is our fervent hope that you will become a part of this mosaic. We know no other way that will allow us to create a place that overtime will build itself into a rich tapestry of personal stories. Read the stories and if you feel ready, share your story with us. www.dsplaced.com | firstname.lastname@example.org We look forward to reading your story. Jinal & Mansi (Founders)
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ra, ang at h B s, s th ngle crumb a B d, ad woo my bre y l l o s. B e y a r e e. ” g n i m h h t l e t u r r y. T . To h o t i l y C o on t Brinjal Bomba d l o “I h ss and ack to r B a me b lead
S N A
“Home was in my grandmother’s lap in her garden as she braided my hair & spun tales of Princess of Naranj & Toranj, and dipped sugarcubes in her tea.” azita houshiar
â€œ Home is about family. No matter where I am, if I AM with my family, I Am home . â€? neha s.
A new day. A new adventure Some people thought I was insane to return to America when the economy was sinking, when I could easily get another teaching job in Asia, when I expressed such dislike over New York, and when I consistently praised the cheapness, the beauty, and the kind people of Asia. I returned to New York anyway. I was tired of traveling and the inability to hold conversations with others. I cried a few times my first week while staying with a friend in Washington Heights. I loathed the crowds, the filthy packed subway cars, the dirty and too numerous buildings that seemed as if they wanted to topple on me and press me into the dirty, rat poop-covered sidewalk, the noise noise noise, and the people’s ubiquitous addiction to a Blackberry, an iPhone, or some other electronic device. What New York claimed as parks were as covered with people as Chinatown and sometimes not much cleaner.
I lost focus. I had trouble reading, writing, thinking, breathing, and staying in the moment, a concept I found incredibly soothing and relieving in Thailand.
All I longed for were Buddhist temples, parks with waterfalls, and the casual interpretation of time that meant if people proposed meeting at 2 PM, 2:15 or even 2:30 would still be acceptable. My well-being and mentality slightly improved once I moved into my Brooklyn apartment. I have a spacious bedroom on a tree-lined block inhabited by families. Down the street, children play basketball in a park or have field trips to the Brooklyn Children’s museum. There are bike paths on my cross streets, and I’m in close proximity to Prospect Park, the Brooklyn Library, and the Brooklyn Museum. Although I’ve formed a comforting routine of writing, reading, applying to jobs, meditating, and doing yoga, I still don’t know if I can or ever will call New York home. Sometimes Portland or San Francisco whisper in my ear. Sometimes, places farther away. I’ve physically returned to America, but where has my mind settled? Is this a return to the past or is this really the beginning of another adventure? 9
DEJA VU I love the first snow of the season…It’s like a deja vu of the first rains back home. The glitch though is, it doesn’t smell as divine as India’s wet earth.
I had this sudden craving for cutting chai, butter makka and garma garam bhajiyas…Of course, those cravings remained just that - cravings. I correct myself here.
Last year was my first winter, after just four months, in New York. And, being from a tropical country like India and a humid city like Bombay, the snow thrilled me to no end. I celebrated - went out and danced in the snow with snowflakes falling on my face, the cold biting my skin and most of all, I indulged in a frolicking snow fight with friends. I could well have been singing ‘Raindrops keep falling on my head’. Only, these were snowflakes…
I love the first snow, but I live for the lashing rains of Bombay. The smell and sound of butter on a garam bhutta, the cutting chai from the tapris and the taste of freshly made bhajiyas on my already scalded tongue. I love the passion of the rains, the salty spray from the wild Arabian Sea messing with my hair and of course, the smell of my earth. The smell of India.
Something similar happened today. As the skies burst open, my feet suddenly had a life of its own. I was walking with a lilt in my gait and looking towards the sky, as if waiting for the snow to lash my face. Of course, that didn’t happen. Snowflakes don’t lash your face as passionately as raindrops do. At best, they can give you a frostbite. As I was enjoying my walk from office to the subway, I was happy about my happiness - a feeling that New York doesn’t manage to evoke from me oftentimes. But then, 10
Home. Will we ever really find it? Will our hearts ever settle? We flee from place to place, forever searching for that bit of stability. And when we think we have found it, something quickly proves us wrong. We get bored or discover that things arenâ€™t as we expected. And off we go, with eyes turned to the road once again. Home is something evasive; something wet and slippery and hard to grasp. And when we do manage to grab it, it is oh so eager to escape our grip.
New York and Mumbai are similar. But there is one difference amongst its dwellers. In NY the 18 inch separation of space between two people transcends to their hearts. In Mumbai, itâ€™s just the space.
shweta suratkar New York and Mumbai are similar. But there is one difference amongst its dwellers. In NY the 18 inch separation of space between two people transcends to their hearts. In Mumbai, itâ€™s just the space.
READING THE CITY
Tokyo swallowed me up in one neon-flashing, subway-mobbing, impossibly bright and impeccably-styled gulp. I live here now. I say the words carefully, letting them roll over my tongue (trembling from a day of stumbling through the staccato fortress that is Japanese). I’m glad to be seen carrying grocery bags down the alley behind my apartment- it means people know I live here. Were I merely a tourist, I surely wouldn’t be grocery shopping, buying my tiny food to store in my tiny fridge in my tiny room. I’m proud to wait in line at the market, the pharmacy, the ward, I’m proud to be attempting to infiltrate the biggest city on the planet, knowing that if I pushed any further east, I would start wrapping around the globe, and be heading towards home again. But here I am, head spinning, blood pumping the inexhaustible soundtrack of the city into my veins. House music maybe, or some syrupy, digitalized, genre of the future. I am perpetually over-stimulated in my new life here. My eyes are never not straining, my brain never not processing. And I am constantly reading, reading, reading. When I first arrived, all the signs, advertisements, and notices were nothing more to me than a random combination of lines, swirls, shapes, and designs. Nothing written held any meaning for me, which led to immense frustration, confusing, and disorientation. Yet I diligently kept studying the characters, writing and rewriting them on every available surface, a sort of mania that led my hand right off the paper I was working on. Finally, one day on the train, I looked up at an advertisement, neurotransmitters fired in the way they’re supposed to, and I found that I could sound out the words written
in front of me. It was painstaking at first, testing my motivation and patience, and I can’t quite describe the sensation, but the world around me had suddenly become accessible, no longer the overwhelming, mysterious Babylon that it had been. That’s the day that I began walking into things. Anytime I saw a sign, an advertisement, even a menu posted outside, I craned my neck to read it. I read everything, slowly identifying and sounding out each character, then stringing them together, and finally attempting to glean the meaning as a whole. This frequently required me to stop walking suddenly in my tracks, thus causing a pile-up of throngs of busy Tokyoites behind me, or better yet, caused me to walk directly into a stationary object in front of me as my head was still turned and my mouth still mumbling incoherently and excitedly to myself. Having been here for several months now, I still read everything I can, though I’ve learned not to injure my self or others in the process. And when I’m not reading the entire city, I’m breathing it, sweating it, squeezing it, tasting it, cradling it, capturing it, seducing it, and grasping it, preparing for the day when I’ll have to remember it.
H A R D LY L O ST I N TRA NS LATI O N For more reasons than one, I believe that my parents should have invested in a family airplane. It would have really saved them a lot of money that was spent on our travel and moving about. Born, bred and bought up in Hong Kong was perhaps the best experience of my life. I was born much before it was handed back to the Chinese regime and for majority of my childhood lived in British controlled Hong Kong. My British school was the biggest melting pot in the world. Enrolled were expatriates from the U.K., Indians, Aussies, Chinese and a whole amalgamation of other cultures. While I grew up eating Sunday Dim-Sum, learning British grammar and spelling, at home we were still a typical Sindhi Hindu family. Our lives evolved around Hindi movies, Monday temple visits, Friday ashram services and Saturday Bharatnatyam classes followed by Bollywood hip-hop sessions. My memories of my childhood are filled with antarkshari afternoons which my father and I often won as a tag team and Hindi movies galore. My parents were also great travelers. The minute we would have a break from school, we
would pack our bags and head anywhere we could. My British passport is filled with stamps including: U.S.A, Indonesia, Russia, Spain, Austria, The Philippines, Thailand and of course, India. Most of my summers were spent in the grueling but amazing Bombay (more recently Mumbai) monsoons. I remember being forewarned not to eat any foods sold by the roadside hawkers and secretly gorging on local goodies on an outing with my friends. Mumbai is definitely my favorite city in the world. I love everything it stands for. While everyone know it is a city whose spirit cannot be broken, Mumbai has an essence which cannot be imitated. The minute I step off the plane into Chattrapathi Shivaji airport in Mumbai and smell Indian soil, I think… “Yay! I’m home!” And naturally, tears fall from my eyes when I leave. When it came down to choosing a city to head off to study, I knew it had to be New York. I had been there previously and absolutely loved the city. Manhattan in itself, is the world on an island. No where else in the world will you find a mini Korea, Japan, India and China
all housed within a 23 kilometer radius. In addition, the energy and buzz the city never sleeps possesses is literally pulsating. On numerous occasions during my stay in New York, my best friend and I would realize we were bored at 3 a.m. only to walk out and be surrounded by tons of people in Times Square. I doubt I slept for over six hours a day until I sadly graduated. I then moved westward to sunny California. It was perhaps one of the most humbling experiences in my life. From constantly living in a city, I moved into a small “village” in the east bay known as Fremont. Why “village” you ask? Well it is actually known as the city of Fremont but I think I live in the tallest building which is only five floors high which technically makes it a village. I constantly complain about this small city but it is really is not that bad. Because of the amount of Indian influence in this minor metropolis, it has come to gain its name as Little India. It is rather fitting as it accommodates a popular Indian cinema, a number of Desi supermarkets and restaurants. In all honesty, I initially complained nonstop about living in
such a small city. But over time, I’ve come to like the peace and slight resemblance to India that Fremont encompasses. While I may never call it “home,” it is a city which I will hold close to my heart. Personally, I’ve come to a point in my life where I think I need to head back east now. It is ultimately my dream to make India my home for a simple reason that I don’t think I have found my home till date. They say home is where the heart is and my dil goes dhakdhak for India. I can’t imagine living the rest of my life anywhere else. I really wish there was such thing as a Global Passport for citizens such as myself. After all, the world is getting smaller by the minute. A lot of the time, I feel like I’ve come too far west for my own good making me feel sometimes d(i)splaced in this world, but definitely not in life. However, that said, the world is your oyster and as much as I have globe-trotted all over the world, I can safely say I am hardly lost in translation.
In a maximum city that runs so fast, it is only when you are still that you can spot the next opportunity.
â€œI am twenty years between homes, and counting. Home is a cloud.â€?
M U S C AT > t o >
Moving from Muscat, Oman to Mumbai, India was like moving from a sleepy faraway cottage in the countryside to a high rise in a bustling city. Muscat is the sleepy, towny, cosy city where your friends know your grandmother’s name, where pongal is celebrated with as much fervour as is Hanukkah. While Mumbai is a city in random motion. Sometimes Mumbai shows purpose…other times its chaotic is a blissful ignorant way. When I first moved,
I hated the adjustment and the frequent smoke, the easy friendships, the pani puri made with dirty hands. Today, its home. It matters and it keeps me running on smoke…packed trains and yummilicious pani puri.. Muscat is an like an old classic in your aunt’s cellar and Mumbai is like a bestseller chick-lit that mirrors your life and your laughs. Both are dear to my heart.
Words are pretty potent things. What happens when you wake up a Dream? I`m having Déjà vu about the whole thing. In Dreams that come true, Life surpasses the time-space continuum. From city to city, the curious ones go. Seekers. Wanderers. Dreamers. Go. Going. Gone. I’ve just arrived. I`m a big city girl. They assured me I’ll get by just fine. I`m resting assured. I`m just a restless kind of person. It took two suitcases to pack a lifetime into. Well, almost. I hate baggage. Memories are beyond backpacks. Thank God. Comfort Zones get too cushy sometimes. This Life is brand new; in Debit, on Credit. There is something so sinister about plastic money; you just don’t see the damned thing. Out of sight yet on the mind. All the time.From Paanch Rupaiyaa Baarah Aana to Dollars and Pennies. From Dolphin to Orange to Airtel to AT&T. From family surveillance to a lusty freedom.
From Mummy to Roomie. It’s snowing and I am jubilant. I was so jubilant all through Fall. Spring is on the anvil, I shall be jubilant. I’ll go home to Summer if I can buy myself a ticket out of here. I think I`m here to stay. Love is unconditional yet Life is not. It’s all so amusing and anecdotal. Like the stuff you want to make scrapbooks about. Blog worthy. Solitude begins tasting bad when it turns into Loneliness. I`m doing great so far. I’ve just arrived. So busy watching busy people going about their businesses. You’ve to internalise a lot of things to adapt faster. Can sense I’m going to be real busy real soon. Yearned to be here and got lucky. It’s so expensive to keep this dream alive. No Rant, please. So, like I was saying, I awoke once to a Dream and turns out its American. What, really? Words are such wasted little things. Let’s meet. Your city or mine?
FROM SAND TO SNOW
My fingers have been frozen more often in the last year of my life than in the previous 23 years combined. In Minnesota, I brushed inches of soft, floury snow away from the windshield of my car with a gloved hand almost daily. The remnants of snow on my glove would melt and seep through to the dry, cracked skin beneath. In Oregon, I’ve stooped on my knees and wrestled with putting chains on my tires with stiff, mud-covered fingers, so that I would make it over icy hills and overpasses. I grew up in Texas, where winters are mild. I put up most of my Christmas trees in shorts. I had never even seen real snow until I left—had only poked my fingers giddily into an inch or so of icy slush on a handful of memorable occasions. I hadn’t known that snow could be so soft or so dry, that it could be as fine as mist or as heavy as crocodile tears. I didn’t know that on the coldest days, it would blow across pavement like sand or that it really could form perfect, glittering flakes. I didn’t know I could become so tired of the color white. I had a lot to learn when I left. Snow—which had seemed such an obvious thing before I moved across the country, I never considered there was anything to learn about it, except perhaps how to drive in it—was one of the first.
Home is a place where you can be yourself. Where you are at peace.
IN SEARCH OF MY TREASURE A man, as justification for me to move into his home, remarked, “for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”. I scoffed, with disdain, at his attempt to bend a spiritual notion to suit his carnal desires. The last few years, though, as I’ve moved from country to country, presumably satisfying my wanderlust, those words have haunted me. Home was always a physical place – where my bed was, inhabited by those I cared about most. Accordingly, I’m now homeless – most of my stuff is in storage, I go to an empty apartment at day’s end, and should I not show, my bed will not seek after me.
But, has the very scattering of my possessions and loss of physical proximity to family created this displacement or is it merely an allegorical parallel? For a short period I moved back to my parents’ home. Sadly, it did not re-settle my heart. I’m disillusioned – unaware if the treasure my heart seeks is material, human, or spiritual. I do know it no longer tolerates the flux and flight it’s endured the last decade. So I’m eagerly seeking my treasure, whatever it may be, wherever it may lie, in the hope it’ll grant my heart the reprieve it so longs from displacement.
2 -1 =?
I shunt between two homes. One affords me freedom, another gives me comfort and rest. One lets me breathe, the other lets me breathe out. Both are homes away from the other home. One home stays awake past bedtime, another sleeps too early. I cannot live without either. Now I may be facing my biggest fear. I have a feeling that one home is closing its doors on me.
Home is the place you leave because some of it is rotten and you donâ€™t believe you can repair it.
Remember that you have everything to gain when you get displaced. Try as much as possible, to get lost in this big bad world. It could turn into the greatest lesson of your life.
I mage Credits
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