Last night I attended one of the things that I hate the most in all the world.
A friend’s farewell.
Saying goodbye to someone I like leaves me bereft. There is no other word for it.
And it also leaves me puzzled as to how best to describe myself and my position here in India.
Surrounded by ex-pats last night – most of them here on short contracts – I felt a little out of place, since I am, I suppose, a “lifer.”
India is my forever home now, the place where I shall, in all probability, die and be buried.
So I do not look at India with the same view as the utterly charming people I met last night, who are here for a few years, who hang out with fellow foreigners, who are protected from much of the more difficult aspects of living in India, and then know they will move on to pastures new.
That was the life we lived, so I know exactly how they feel – we were ex-pats for many years.
But now I’m not an ex-pat.
Now I live here.
Yet India perceives me to be an outsider, not only physically but politically.
I am not allowed to vote, I am not allowed to buy certain categories of land, I am not allowed to travel in certain areas. I am charged more to visit national parks because of my skin tone. I am routinely asked to pay more at every monument or museum I visit. I am asked to pay more to go mountain climbing.
Yes, I know, this is all too maudlin for speech.
The truth of the matter is that I hate farewells, and don’t handle them in a very grown up way.
Bon voyage Kate et Henri. Bonne route vers la France.
I’ll be better tomorrow, I promise.
And if anyone can think of a better description than “lifer”, do tell.