When people ask me where in India I’m from — originally, that is — I don’t quite know what to say.
I’m a Tamilian but I’m not from Tamil Nadu. My family hails from Kerala but I’m not a true Keralite either.
I was born in Alappuzha, Kerala, into a Tamil brahmin family. I spent the first seven years of my life in two different suburbs of Mumbai, followed by six years of schooling in Thiruvananthapuram, followed by two years each in Pathanamthitta and Alappuzha. Then came my four-year stay at IIT Bombay (which doesn’t really count as Mumbai… IIT is a village and campus unto itself). Then two years of graduate school at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, and eight (yes eight!) years in Austin.
It doesn’t help to see where my family is settled either. My dad moved around from place to place in India, even spending five years each in Hyderabad and Lucknow. In retirement finally he has settled in Mumbai, with vague plans of moving to Cochin when the time is right. So I’ve never had one specific city to call home, to go back to year after year, that’s filled with all childhood memories for me.
The other day I realized with a start that I’ve lived in Austin longer than in any other city at a stretch. For all practical purposes I call this city home now. In fact I’ve lived in the same apartment complex in the Arboretum area for six years, which may make it the longest area of residence for me of all. 🙂