A sense of belonging (Goa in my heart)
In today’s world, we choose to live where we work, not where we ‘belong’. I say this as I return from Goa, the land where my father grew up but I never had the fortune to live in and fully experience as a child. As I grow older, however, I am drawn to Goa for the sheer sense of belonging and connection I feel when I am there.
Now accustomed to a metro life, I cannot say with certainty if I will be able to adjust to actually living Goa’s laid back lifestyle and honouring the highly intertwined social and family commitments that I will be a part of were I to make the move. I do, however, increasingly feel the need to move away from the stresses of city life. The unnecessary chaos, noise and hurtling pace we set for ourselves in the Delhis, Mumbais, Bangalores of this world. I keenly observe the degrading quality of life in the city I live in (Gurgaon, which despite being a suburb, is every bit as chaotic and fast-paced as Delhi, sans the character and other saving graces!). No longer do city dwellers have the right to fresh air, fresh vegetables, greenery, space to walk in, silence and peace, etc, etc. We must embrace the noise, the pollution, the stale fruits and the high prices in the attitude of a city lover. We must convince ourselves that the trade offs are worth the price we pay- better options for education and entertainment, for instance. And certainly better jobs with better pay packets.
I don’t buy the argument though, trapped as I am in the same vicious cycles as everyone else. Each time I go back to Goa, I yearn for the simplicity of living in my hometown, surrounded by people I know and love and a culture I sort-of understand. I envy m y cousins who, at least at this point in time, can experience a high quality of life with the unique benefits of a community that retains its rural ambience while being able to access urban amenities, with good governance as an added benefit.
But most of all, I miss living in a community where I feel I belong, where I don’t need to make so much effort to form a connection, where I am not a nameless faceless dot in a sea of struggling humans, but me, Mukta Naik, daughter of so-and-so, mother of so-and-so, niece of so-and-so…… Many may seek and thrive in the anonymity that large cities offer and till recently, so did I. Lately though, I’ve started to yearn for the simpler things in life and appreciate what life in a more traditional milieu offers! A sense of
belonging, continuity, identity are important factors we are tending to ignore, even as our sub-conscious struggles to come to terms with our environment and seek anchors in a vaccuum. I may not be able to move to Goa today. But going there every year reminds me of my need for identity. Thank you Ajji, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends in Goa for keeping me connected, rooted and happy 🙂
Posted on September 5, 2011, in Personal and tagged culture, identity. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.
Enjoyed reading the article. I could completely relate to it.
Thanks Appu…it was meant for all of us who are ‘outside’ and yet still back there 🙂
I too felt a lot of this on my trips to Goa – of course, mine was a late introduction as a new bride, well into my twenties. My early childhood was in Kerala with my grandparents living with us at the various small towns where my father was posted in the district administration and prolonged visits to my ‘Nanihaal’, a wonderful village in the backwaters, which still evoke nostalgia. But once the move to Delhi was made, we did not have a single relative there and my father had little use for most of themanyway, it was the ‘single family unit’ syndrome to its full. We grew up knowing my father’s friends better than we did the extended family!! So, those early visits to Goa were eye openers and also scary as the same closeness can also be clausterphobic. But being Subhash Naik’s “bael” (wife) meant total acceptance and that was something that absolutely floored me. So, while i was always happy that i did not have to live in Goa, it has also gave me a sense of belonging that i never had elsewhere. For that i am always grateful.
Two generations apart the home does not become ancestral, although the feelings are well understood. The home was entirely Aaji’s since my father and she were the only persons responsible for buying it. This in no way creates confusion of inheritance, since all of us.. your uncles and father together decided to protect the sentiments of our father, who meant the property to be the joint family home of which he was the head. Our ancestral home should be looked for at Keri, a village near Ponda. Often we were referred as Naik Kerkar. It will carry a different story of the times.
The article is a very good presentation of the feelings. We all appreciate the feelings. There is no
measure for understanding simplicity. Aaji is the epitome of it. She is not concerned because with or without understanding how others feel, she is comfortable in protecting the feeling of togetherness. That simplicity is simply great.
New generations will become commercial, some though may look for meaning in this understanding of giving away without expecting.
Aparna showed me this blog.Do visit each year. Next year we will be there
the reference ‘ancestral’ was for easy understanding. the blog wasnt meant to be a family history, but just to describe a state of mind of the urban ‘immigrant’. thank you for commenting though. i am aware of the keri connection. we visited there once to look around, etc.
Last few years we have made several trips to Goa,both Priya and I love just the simplicity of the place,the people and way of life.The quality is far better to our urban environments,just seeing those lush green fields makes you yearn to stay back and just enjoy.
It reminds me of Kerala,where I was born,but sadly the roots/connections are no more,and one wishes there was some connect.
But Goa is a fantastic alternate and with such a loving and hospitable Naik family I am sure we will visiting more often.
I appreciate your feelings expressed in the blog. So nicely worded.enjoyed reading. Keep on coming to Goa as frequently as possible.
Thank you so much Ramookaka…you’re the best 🙂
Excellent article Mukta . Goa is beautiful not just from it’s natural beauty but also from the love of our friends and relatives that we so much crave for after staying miles away . The “connection ” part definitely struck a chord ..
Nicely written Mukta. When I visit my mom’s village, I too am struck by the simplicity of the people and the cleanliness in everything….air, vegetables, water…..but as you say everyone is stuck in the vicious cycle. We have a small farm there and we try to visit it atleast once a year and enjoy the place.
Thanks Prema….however, I often think its about the choices we make and not having the sheer guts to make choices that are unconventional or difficult!…am really thinking about this stuff of late….getting old perhaps? 🙂
Having grown up in a city…I still long for the connections of childhood and the sense of belonging I have to my home and community housing in Kolkata – it cant be more urban than that – 1100 sft of flats piled up on top of each other with meagre green spaces to run around as kids. We did not have the verdant green lands that my husband had in Kerala, so our play areas would be the stairs and steps of that housing (some of the best hide and seek places ever). Our windows did not look out to the sky but to each other’s windows. Being immigrants of the partition, my parents did not have the luxury of an extended family of Aijis and Uncles to fall back upon…rather, they had to form the focus of a large fractured and definitely confused family of people who had been veritable princes and princesses back home and had to start a life in one or two bedroom flats in a city overflowing with refugees. While that pulled my uncles and aunts closer to each other, we also found our extended family in the windows we peeked in or the stairs we shared. Thus instead of just a large household of borthers and sisters and first cousins as family, we ended up being a part of 108 families. But that sense of belonging still remains – 18 years after I stepped away from that place to find my own place in the world. So I wonder if that sense of belonging has to do with ancestral roots, or just a sheer sense of nostalgia? – Sometimes construed!?
I agree, sense of belonging is definitely related to nostalgia, but its also about people…its not about urban versus rural..i grew up in cities too. i am only trying to chart the relative isolation that people feel when they are all immigrants in a city. sometimes, if they are lucky like you were, they form lasting friendships, which become their anchors in a hostile world. this was just my experience of the moment…
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