Sunday, February 7, 2010

Where do I belong ???

As a child , I remember I always yearned to travel, to see, to experience different cultures, to traverse the whole diaspora called humanity. Of course being in India helped me consolidate my longings since most of us generally move out for studies or work. But being in India also implies that if you are a good student you ideally should be predisposed to take up Science. Since I was a part of the 'rat race' till then, I did what any sane person would do in those circumstances..... pursued Science disregarding my allegiance to Literature and History. Not a colossal forbearance for an adolescent from the developing world.
Little surprise that I decided research in genetics, cell and molecular biology enticed me to the extent that I wanted to pursue PhD in another country. Many people call it ' Permanent Head Damage' which could be true if you let go of the harness. But more than that it was a learning experience , a strife that teaches you the power of perseverance and renunciation. Oops!! Big words. But simple meanings. Just hang in there and keep at it. Forget the fact that you worked for two years if an experiment flops. Day in , day out , seven days a week. Doesn't matter, just relinquish everything. Start afresh. As long as you don't literally incur the head damage everything's fine.
But of course I did not know that homesickness was part of the package if you were studying in a foreign country.That's not what you think the first time you go out to study. You think life is going to be all cool, cushy and comfortable. Homesickness creeps in when you realize, life's not that commodious out there for the simple fact that its life. When you actually brave the vicissitudes in life, you recall the first twenty years when you had everything on a platter. Where even if you sneezed, one of your parents would make a dash for the doctor. And that's how you start pining to get back where you grew up. Because we humans covet one thing most and that is love. I obviously was no different.
By the end of my PhD, I had but one aspiration left in me. To get back home. So it was a dream come true when I was there. Without any hassles, without any stress, without any job to cater to. I felt like a free bird - unfettered, unimpeded, unrestricted. But my flight was short. Firstly because at times I felt outlandish in my own country. Because it was difficult for me to conform to many things happening there. And also because job prospects for people like me in India are quite bleak. An absolutely bizarre sense of being there and yet not completely being there kept hitting me. Left without many options, I again applied abroad and took up a position in another country this time.
Contrary to what I thought , when leaving India, I wasn't exactly crestfallen. Because the long flights that I hate, the airports that I detest waiting at, the living alone that I despise , the craving for home on Holi and Diwali that I abhor , were all beckoning me. My life was calling me. This was what I am used to. This was my life. Not what I was trying to look for at home. The ludicrous thing is that two weeks in America and snow were enough to make me homesick again. Tired of my capricious mind I decided I will make this time a triumph. Even if it means walking half an hour daily uphill to the lab in snow (until I get my driving license) and still being jubilant. My motto - This too shall pass.
And the optimism was enough to sustain me through the impasse - to get me out of my dilemma. I comprehended that being in a laboratory gave me a feeling of being at the right place. The familiar bastion of pipettes being used, gels being cast, papers being read, labmeetings being held. This was my niche. And wherever I found it, gratification followed suit. Roosevelt quoted once 'Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing'. On a path to self discovery through my sojourn in these continents,I envisaged that I belong wherever my work is, because that is the only fuel that keeps me going.