Thursday, 22 July 2004

My get up and go, it never arrived.

Leaving New York, we flew out of JFK. That's the same airport my father flew into almost 41 years ago, when he arrived from India. Though I doubt he (or any man of his generation) would phrase it this way, I suspect he was looking for the same thing I was looking for when I arrived in New York. A place to be, a place to belong, and a chance to take some chances. He'd headed west leaving behind everything and everyone he'd ever known, and all I'm losing is the chance to have a good bagel as often as I'd like. But I like to think I've got some of the same spirit my father does, and that part of honoring my love for both him and New York is to chase adventure wherever it takes me.
Anil Dash's evocative post on leaving New York City brought a torrent of thoughts to the surface. A little more than thirty years ago, my father came to Bombay to train for a promotion he had just received. A few years later (Next year will make thirty! Egad!), the rest of us were able to join him. And i think to myself, i've lived in five cities, almost a sixth, moved home ten times, had three proper jobs and sat at thirteen different office desks.
(The desk i'm typing at now being the one steady factor. It's the same one i've had since i was in school; bought second-hand, it is now scarred and stained and requires a special technique to open one of its drawers.)
Yes, i've always considered myself quite the nomad. But the fact is, that none of those shifts were moves initiated by me. They were dictated by Dad's job transfers, his retirement, limited term leases, other necessities, but i've always been the passive one. Even the 'almost a sixth,' to a city i'd long planned to move to, but never did. Even that was because of a Certain Person who lived there. The fact that i didn't make up my mind and just pick up sticks and go may have had something to do with her deciding to move. Right out of my life.
And i wonder, all those passive moves, did they leave in me a desire for some permanence? Something that makes me reluctant to move on, move up, just move? i know i've never shown the gumption Dad and Mum did, moving away from all that was known and loved and familar so that their children could have a better life. And they had the same excuse i did for staying put. One grandfather was in the Army and the Telegraphs, the other in the Railways, and both of them had moved around the country as children. Dad's family even lived in Burma, and fled from there just ahead of the armies of the Rising Sun. Ancestors moved too, to India from various parts of the British Isles, and god knows where else.
Me? twice i let job offers abroad slip through my fingers. And once, as i said, with that certain person, i suspect my inertia lost me something precious. Even now, older - so much older - and hopefully wiser, my biggest ambition is to own a home of my own. Roots. A haven.
Yes, i love to travel, and i hope to see more of the world than i already have. But i lack that true wanderlust, that real pioneering spirit that shapes the world. Perhaps i need to change that. Perhaps i'd better start by at least getting a passport.

Damn, i have rambled on. Not to worry, i'll shift back to the usual pretentious first person plural and third person from the next post on.

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