As 2009 comes to an end I’m gripped with a strange sense of deprivation. I’ve been away from my city for an entire year. Of course, I've been in Toronto since July 2008. But 2009 is the first year of that I've been away from Mumbai throughout the year.
Coming to Canada was a dream nurtured for many years collectively by my family. Living in Canada for the last 17 months now makes me acutely aware that those glib talkers who say that in this world of globalisation geography is history don’t know what they are talking about.
Or perhaps I’m differently made.
In my new job, I’ve met more people in the last two months in Toronto (and Montreal) than I did in the last 15 months. Every time someone asks me how long I’ve been here, I act like Morarji Desai – which is to say that I answer the question with another question – and ask the person to take a guess. The answers vary, always by a long shot. The closest anyone’s come to the correct answer is three years.
When I tell them, “I came here last July,” they usually comment rather favourably at how well I’ve adjusted to my new environs.
- Perhaps my stint with the US Consulate has helped me.
- Perhaps it’s my habit of reading the newspaper every morning.
- Perhaps I’m actually too much of an outsider and everyone’s just trying to be polite.
Take your pick.
Earlier this year I read Pico Iyer’s Global Soul. Iyer says the new globalism is the nationalism.
He explains, “...in the modern world, which I take to be an International Empire, the sense of home is not just divided, but scattered across the planet...I begin to wonder whether a new kind of being might not be coming to light – a citizen of this International Empire – made up of fusions (and confusions) we had not seen before: a “Global Soul” in a less exalted (and more intimate, more vexed) sense than the Emersonian one. This creature could be a person who had grown up in many cultures all at once – and so lived in the cracks between them – or might be one who, though rooted in background, lived and worked on a globe that propelled him from tropic to snowstorm in three hours.”
I clearly don’t belong to this category. This is the category that is probably most at home in Davos – the place which, as Iyer says, is the new face of this 21st century globalism.
I was rooted in Mumbai for the first part of my life. I wish to stay rooted in Toronto for the rest of my life.
I was an outsider there in Mumbai (despite being born there) and I'll be an outsider here (despite probably dying here).