• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Divorced from the Soil

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on January 8, 2013


Whatever disconnects itself from the land becomes rigid and hard. High culture begins in the preurban countryside and culminates with a finale of materialism in the world cities. Cosmopolitanism is the essence of rootlessness, because it is not tied to the land.

Oswald Spengler

My father was born in Peshawar, Pakistan. When India was partitioned, he and his family moved to New Delhi. My mother’s hometown is Srinagar, Kashmir. Ethnic cleansing by muslim militants forced her entire family out of Kashmir in the late 1980s. My father’s career in the Army meant that I kept changing cities every three years of my childhood. My work has taken me to several places and today I find myself in Haridwar, a new city, surrounded by new people. Been there before!

So when I’m asked where I belong to, I have no answer. I have no native or ancestral place. Unlike most Indians, I have no unique mother tongue. Is it my yearning to be tied to land that drives my passion for traveling? Am I in search of the Eden that I wish to tie myself to? Or have I developed a fear of tying myself to soil that makes me move whenever I find myself in a comfort zone?

I have often wondered how important the feeling of belonging is. I am still to find an answer. Until then, I remain divorced from the soil.

9 Responses to “Divorced from the Soil”

  1. soumyav said

    And I find myself very similar to you in this! As I too have been wandering around in places since childhood and even after marraige.But somehow have to give the place status a name similar to that of my in laws..which is supposed to be my land now. Its this constant change and movement which develops a personality within us to be flexible and adjusting alongwth being compassionate and tolerant to every one around us

  2. Ajay Kaul said

    I am in a similar situation and I enjoy that feeling – keeps the mind open and leads to several unique relationships and experiences – experiences not tied to borders or ethnic considerations!

  3. Raunak, I know the feeling having to move every 2 or 3 or sometimes 4 years to somewhereelse in the world. Yes, it increases ones ethnic considerations, tolerance of other peoples cultures and customs, some of us even learn a different language in the process, but have you and Ajay (above) never felt the hesitation in other people you wanted to make friends with in letting you too close? This was my experience and often I have heard a phrase “…..Carina, it’s easier for you to leave from here. You are off to new adventures but I/we stay behind and will feel the void of your presence much more, and it hurts us therefore more, too….” Now that I am older and live in South India with my (indian) husband, I just dont feel the sadness so much any more, only miss certain friends at times because I have chosen my husband as “my best friend”.

    • Raunak said

      Hi Carina! I have noticed that lately, I have stopped making an effort to socialize or befriend anyone.For example, my wife and I lived in Hyderabad for 3 years, and in all those years we didn’t make much attempt to make local friends. Maybe that’s a side-effect of knowing that one is going to keep moving. Or it could be the result of my first job being in Pondicherry. As a North Indian, living there was such a cultural shock, that at a young age I learnt how to live alone.I immersed myself in books and other hobbies. Now these hobbies have become such an integral part of my life that I do not find the need or the time to socialize.
      Also, since India is so culturally diverse, it becomes difficult to form a bond with people in new cities.

      • I’ve lived in various places, and always found new friends sprang up all around me like mushrooms. Living in Sicily has been a real shock to me as it is the first and only time in my life that I have not found it easy to make friends. I have so manby hobbies and so many interesting things to read that I didn’t care for several years, but then it suddenly hit me that I was shrinking! personally shrinking!
        After putting in a fairly huge effort to make friends – something that had never taken any conscious effort on my part whatsoever – I realised the difference here was that nobody in Sicily ever moves around. they grow up in a small village and marry someone else form that small village. my old friends were all a very international bunch who kept moving about like me, whose spouses were of different nationalities, who would htink nothing of moving to a different land and learning a new language.
        And that is where I really feel at home – among people who have the same “international” mindset as I do… wherever we may be.

      • Raunak said

        thanks for sharing your experiences…international mindset is surely an asset..I wish more people had that.

  4. Home is where the heart is.

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