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India: Our Home

October 2023

Where do you live? Where is your home? Rather, what does it mean to be...home? What is our connection as Non-Resident Indians to India, where our ancestors came from and nurtured us all? What does it mean to return to your roots?

Photographer/Director: Anirudh Rajagopalan

Writer: Anirudh Rajagopalan

Editor: Anirudh Rajagopalan

Model: Anirudh Rajagopalan

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|1| Living Abroad:

As someone who has never lived in India but visited a number of times already, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to live in India. I’ve always come to this country as a visitor. I wonder what I would have been studying or working as if I was presented with the opportunities that India gives compared to America. What customs and traditions would I have been doing instead? Would I have been doing them more in India than America? Our country of origin has always been our guiding light. There are certain bonds we have to it that cannot be broken. Yet, being an Non-Resident Indian might mean more money and better employment abroad, but can that really replace the feeling of living in the country that really raised you? How is your connection to India different when you are a visitor, compared to when you are a resident or a citizen?

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|2| Duty:

We all agree that different people have different dreams and goals in life, but what is our duty to the world? Is it our careers and hobbies where our duty exists, or is duty about spending time with and for the people we care about and the people we want to serve? It’s a huge word on the bigger scale of life. It’s about who we want to be around, to serve, and to revolve our lives around.

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|3| Living & Healthcare:

While staying in India, I spent some time in some pharmacy stores where I saw the incredible range of medicines and drugs present. In Mumbai, my grandmother’s house is situated in a small area that is surrounded by slums all around. While walking through these slums, I thought more about their livelihoods and how they dealt with various living conditions, especially their health and well-being. While I do work in the healthcare industry, it doesn’t mean I can instantly buy the whole district medicines overnight that they might need or don’t have the money to purchase. At that moment, I kept asking myself, “How can I use the skills I’ve learned in America to help these people? What if they had access to the education and skills that I was fortunate to obtain?” I also thought, “Why is the healthcare industry still so fragmented on so many fronts of daily life? Not just in America, but in India too? Why is insurance still really difficult, even beyond impossible, to obtain for these groups?” It reminded me that there were two different Mumbais, Instagram vs. Reality. But many more cities and regions in India are like this as well. If such improvements can be made at a grassroots level, it definitely cannot solve every single case overnight, but it will still be progress.

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|4| Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera:

2 weeks passed by fast, and I was soon back in North Carolina. But it wasn’t long before I started having flashbacks of my time there. There is this bond that cannot be broken towards the motherland. I felt that it was calling me to spend more time there. I wish I could have, but my situation didn’t allow so. In two short weeks, I had been traveling around Mumbai, Chennai, and several rural areas. During my time there, I kept thinking about the Japanese and American societies where I grew up in, and I have never been a resident of India. I spent most of my time observing these communities, how people worked and interacted. And as I was spending time with my family, it was the first time in a long time which I felt…just happy and unbothered by things back home. I am defined as just a visitor, but I feel more of a sense of belonging regardless. I was raised in an Indian family with traditions and values from the southern state of Tamil Nadu, and these values have guided me my whole life. I feel that India was calling me and I feel that the best relationship one can have is that with their own country.

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