Brownish

I moved after 27 years on one continent to another. This is my life now.

Why  am I doing this?

Because this is something that has changed me and moving to a completely new place after 27 years of being immersed in one type of culture and lifestyle is both baffling and exhilarating.

I am an international student, part of the large crop of Indians that came on the scene in the mid to late eighties and then decided to move overseas to pursue a degree.

Learning to use foreign currency, liberal lifestyle, freezing temperatures and delicious wine and cheese are few of the new things I have experienced in my life here in Melbourne.

This blog is an attempt to explore what its like for an Indian student to move to a different continent after having spent a major part of their life in India and how they deal with this ‘sea’ change.

Leaving behind family and friends is hard enough, but to handle new people about whom you’ve probably only read in books or seen on TV is daunting too. There are several things that go on in your mind and you are trying to wipe them off to see things more clearly. Words like racism, low/no job security, loneliness, no friends, foreign food, high rentals, expensive living costs and no part-time jobs. Believe me when I say this – Life is not easy for an international student, but the courage and commitment it takes for one to move continents is a big part of who they are so… just take it from there, one step at a time.

Relish in the fact that you have chosen to change your life, gain experiences many only dream about and turn that into a motivating force.

Enough serious talk. Lets get to one of my first experiences here as an international student. Ethnic confusion. Before I begin, a word on how I look would be helpful. Im on the paler side of brown, have brown-black curly hair of medium length and I speak English with a fair fluency and don’t have what most people in India (or here) call a ‘mother tongue influence’ or an ‘Indian’ accent (these are all facts and not a source of pride or shame). Although my friends say… after a phone convo with family back home, I sound very ‘Indian’ – whatever that means 😛

And this is where the confusion begins. To be Indian one needs to sound and look Indian. But, what does an Indian look like? Is there one kind? (Obviously not!) I don’t fit into the bill 100%  of what an Indian should look or sound like (not at least by the standards set by the people I have met here).

“You speak such good English. How come? Did you go to an international school?”

“You’re Indian? But you don’t have an accent?”

“You don’t look Indian. Which part of India are you from? The North? Ah! That’s why!”

(To which I always respond that there are people in South of India who also look like me.)

“Really? I thought Indians were always a little darker, and their English is not very good.”

So, these are some of the things I have heard here, and will unpack them in their various incarnations as they have been said or felt by me over several posts on this blog.

 

*Disclaimer: although dated earlier, I have edited this post in 2016 to polish it a bit, but the facts remain as they were when I felt them as a newcomer to Australia. The title is a new thought.

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