Most would have heard of American Born Confused Desi (ABCD)… but what about CBAD? Canadian Born Adopted Desi?
No one fits into a simple description. Country of origin and cultural heritage are just a couple of pieces of a very complex puzzle that makes up a person and then distinct people into a community.
I enjoy stories of others, like me, with a longer term embrace of a country other than the land of their birth. Beyond the traditional ‘expat’ is something else. In my case, if it was the reverse – India to Canada – I would be considered an ‘immigrant’. Comfortably settled into my ‘adopted’ country where my everyday ‘lingo’, cultural reference points, life experience and reality is… well… Indian.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I tried to join a forum for India bloggers. I’ve seen it featured on many blogs I enjoy so thought – why not give it a whirl?
Apparently I don’t belong.
Status: This blog was rejected as it did not comply with our submission guidelines. Sorry!
With the rejection, I received a brief note indicating my nationality disqualifies me. I wrote back sharing more insight about my circumstances to be greeted by a resounding silence – despite follow-ups.
Funny thing is, identity is not such a simple thing. As submitting your passport is not part of the application process, could they be applying a perceived nationality by name? How problematic is that?!
- If I used my ex’s last name (Agarwal), I probably would have been accepted
- Or even my sister’s name (Chandra), might have sailed through!
- Yet more troubling, would an Anglo-Indian name (like Denzil Smith) also be denied?
There is something quite contradictory about their unwritten ‘nationality’ policy.
- There are members with nationalities other than India, just ‘desi’ names.
- And at least one from another country whose only ‘India’ link is a fiancé she hopes to join… one of these days.
Clearly this forum doesn’t want me… which is entirely their prerogative.
If I ever spoke with the mythical powers behind it… I imagine the conversation might go a little like this…
IB: So…. you are trying to tell us you are from India. Where?
Me: Mumbai, India.
IB: Yeah but I mean, this must be… like… temporary right?
Me: I can remain as long as I keep my passport valid.
IB: Umm… but like you just moved here or something.
Me: Actually… It’s been awhile.
IB: So a year or two I guess?
Me: Nope! A bit longer…
IB: I bet 5 years ago you didn’t live here.
Me: I did.
IB: But not 10 years ago.
Me: I did.
IB: OK. But no way you did 20 years ago.
Me: Actually… I was living in Delhi then. So I guess you are correct – I wasn’t living in Mumbai. And then in between I was back in Canada for a few years….
IB: And you weren’t born in India…
IB: (Triumphantly) See! You aren’t actually FROM here. You weren’t born here. You aren’t really Indian. So you don’t belong.
On several levels they are not wrong. My passport is not Indian, my ethnic heritage is not Indian and yet my adult life has been inextricably linked to this country.
It begs the question – what does it mean to ‘belong’ to a place?
- Is it defined by living there? Possibly… For more than a few years? 1990, 1995-1996, back and forth then continuously since 2003… ‘Eve teasing: The other side of my love affair with India
- Studied there? Yup… even have a degree in South Asian History with a 472 page mouthful of a thesis “Disinheriting Daughters: Applying Hindu Laws of Inheritance to the Khoja Muslim Community of Western India from 1837 – 1947”
- Married to a national? Yes but… after 15 years split… and now happily with my partner!
- Speak one or more ‘local’ languages? Check! ‘How come you don’t have an accent in Hindi?’
- Wobble your head with a ‘local’ accent? Errrhmm… I’ve been asked ‘Can you drop the Indian accent?’
- Pay taxes? Done! With sometimes frustrating experiences… Will it be smooth sailing or more tax troubles?
- Vote? Well… that’s a tougher one as I can’t vote anywhere… Losing the right to vote
Clearly I could go on… what it boils down to is a blended identity. A bit of being betwixt and between. Neither here nor there but both.
I’m comfortable with being excluded from this forum. Just as I’m comfortable with being what I’ve decided to call ‘CBAD’. I’m proudly Canadian born and equally absolutely delighted to be ‘adopted’ by India!
So thank you both India and Canada and huge hugs to all the family and friends who are happy to say ‘You belong.’