Intermingling cultures and hybrid identities

Happy Ugadi and Gudi Padwa to all those who celebrate the festivals in your part of India. Since my base work location is in Bangalore, I am enjoying a nice Tuesday vacation today on account of Ugadi.

The Bengali equivalent of Ugadi is on the 15th of April, when my family would do their usual celebrations, but I’d be busy with work. This lockdown has allowed me to stay with my parents for the time being, but that said, sometimes the workload is such that it wouldn’t matter where I am – given that I have such little time to spend with my family outside of work during the workweek.

Well, maybe it’s not as bad most days as the last statement might make you think – I do like the job and feel fulfilled by it. But there are days when I am in endless meetings when grabbing glass of water feels unaffordable.

I’m perhaps digressing. The point that I wanted to make is given that we are migrating so often from our homes, we cannot but embrace the cultures of the places we go to, if not in spirit then in mere execution. For example, I might not care about the underlying spirit of Ugadi as a festival; but I sure might go out today and enjoy some nice food were I in Bangalore. Two days later though, I’d be back in my meetings, forgetting that it’s Poila Boisakh on which my family would be welcoming the Bengali New Year.

Such hybrid identities have become the norm. For the most part, it becomes a part of us so subtly that you won’t probably complain. Well, you might when you just left home and the remains of your younger self craves for the same holidays that you forever enjoyed. But gradually, you get used to it. You learn to blend in, you learn to not complain. You mellow down.

Yet, on a summer afternoon, when you get to the rooftop and take stock of your life, you might realize just how unsettling the change is. You are a version of you which you weren’t a decade back. At times, you might not even recognize yourself. Even as you know that your hybrid identity is who you are now, and that’s all that you will have.

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