posted under Personal Journey | 05 May 2011
Life in India would grind to a halt (or so it seems) without the following two questions being asked by almost every person you encounter during your journey: Where do you come from? and where are you going? Once these two questions have been satisfactorily answered the universe breathes a sigh of relief and life as we know if can continue.
During my travels to India the conversation I dread the most goes something like this:-
Rickshaw driver, beautician or fellow traveler on the train: Where are you from?
Me: I am South African
Rickshaw driver, beautician or fellow traveler on the train: But you look like our people
Me: Yes I am of Indian Origin
Rickshaw driver, beautician or fellow traveler on the train: That’s what I mean, where in India are you from
Me: I am not sure; my family has been in South Africa for generations
Rickshaw driver, beautician or fellow traveler on the train: But you look South Indian, so you must be from the South!
End of discussion
Having been confronted with these questions far too many times to accurately recount and my natural curiosity, has lead me to begin questioning how it is that my family found themselves so far from where they originated, and what were my ancestors searching for when they boarded those ships and came on their ‘ great trek’.
History is a guideline to the future: - if you don’t know where it is that you have been, it’s pretty difficult to accurately calculate where you are headed. So in a way those two questions are vital not just for my sense of where I am at. But also for the people I have met (many of whom have welcome me into their hearts and lives) to grasp how I will affect their way of being.
150 years since the arrival of Indians in South Africa is no milestone. We should be proud that our forefathers had the foresight to embark on that epic journey. Had the courage to seek a better life, and persevere through the trials that they encountered in this beautiful land.
So my answer to the question of where do I come from is: - I am the descendant of pioneers!
Join me as I begin the journey of tracing my family’s roots in India…