Issue 3, Volume 18
The short answer to where I come from is New Delhi, India. Delhi and Melbourne have striking similarities. If the topic is ever brought up, I never fail to point out this relationship and always remark how not only is Melbourne's facade reminiscent of home, but also its culture, people and lifestyle. But in order to be able to make such observations, much like me, you need to have privilege. I would certainly not be drawing such an audacious parallel if I was not this fortunate, so please, I request you to exercise caution when and if you read this article. Any statements I make here, apply only to the top 1% of the society and represent the points of view of that group best.
Perhaps the more interesting answer to where I come from is where my family home is. Palia Kalan, now a small town somewhere along the border of India and Nepal, is the place which has housed generations of my family. Palia has grown exponentially in my lifetime – from a tiny village without any semblance of infrastructure, it is now the biggest agricultural and administrative centre in the district. Significant chunks of my childhood were spent in Palia, where I used to love walking in fields with my father, playing sports with my brother and other children from nearby villages, and spending hours with animals (I believed that if I spent enough time with them, certainly I could understand what they were saying). In retrospect, going to Palia would provide much needed respite from the pressures and demands of conforming to Delhi’s idea of civility and of course, school.
Palia and I share a strained relationship, to the point where at this moment, I am at the brink of severing it. Both of us share the blame. As I grew older, the city life drastically affected my values – the village became regressive and friends became human. To make matters worse, Palia is no longer the relaxing, serene and enriching place it used to be. So to speak, Palia is currently experiencing its dark age.
Which brings me back to the daunting question of where I am from and how I would describe it. Without getting too philosophical about it, as many novice first years like myself would say, that on the facts, the answer is simple – I am from both these places. But that would be a disservice to myself as where I am from is to where I belong. To that extent, I belong in neither of these places, none of them feel like home. For me, where I am from is where, regardless of the material circumstances, there is a concern for something other than oneself and where everyone has a home.
Which brings me to Melbourne, more than any other reason. I do not know if I will find a home or even be able to build my home in the Wurundjeri Country, or if Melbourne too will fall into disrepute with my Being. For now, I am from my head – my experiences and the relationships I have in various geographical locations. And that is just as bizarre, amusing and eccentric to me as it might be to anyone reading this.
Amtesh is a first year JD student.