Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Where is home? Understanding identity and culture

As a British citizen, born and brought up in India, explaining to people where ‘home’ is feels like rocket science. I came to Britain when I was 12. I never wondered where I preferred to be, but since coming to university, I constantly ask where my home is. I realised that it is a harder question to answer than one may realise. Before, I used to only say that London is home, but recently I have included more specifics. But what does home mean to me?

I always try to focus my life around the fact that my roots lie in India but my present is in Britain. From a baby to a toddler, to a girl, I grew up in Punjab. But Britain is where the girl became a teenager, then a young adult, transitioning into a woman. In Punjab, I witnessed many societal challenges that are faced such as gender inequality, alcoholism and the caste system. However, as a child I didn’t know these had a name; only in Britain, I have learnt to understand these issues, and how witnessing these things in my childhood made me the person I am today.

I have learnt that it is my own values and passions that I see in these two countries

Punjab was the place that laid a foundation to my personality, but Britain is where I have been able to understand my values and share them with the rest of society. After spending days reflecting upon what appeals to me about India and Britain to make these places home, I have learnt that it is my own values and passions that I see in these two countries. India is where my family is and they will always be very special to me. Britain, on the other hand, is where I am with only my immediate family. It is the place where I have been able to build personal relationships with people and make friends for life.

Sometimes, you only truly realise the value of something once you lose it

Britain is where I feel like I truly grew up, especially at university. Here, I am no longer provided with the comfort of following my parents around. It is the place where I feel like I truly learnt more about the world; be it exploring my culture, my faith or even developing my passion for chemistry.

Sometimes, you only truly realise the value of something once you lose it. Where I lost Punjab, Britain allowed me to not only remain connected to my roots and the Punjabi environment, but also showed me a glimpse of the huge diversity of British society. 

it was exciting to experience the cultural differences

Coming to university and joining the Bhangra and Sikh society, while taking part in activities alongside people from different cultures, only made the experience richer and more fulfilling.

I visited Punjab this Easter and it has been amazing. One of the best parts was seeing the stars at night in Punjab. The houses and open roofs allowed me to appreciate nature more. From the larger moon to the ceiling fans, it was exciting to experience the cultural differences. 

home is not a physical building situated at a particular location

Thinking about the concept of ‘home’, Rupi Kaur’s TEDx Talk always echoes in my head. It is slowly beginning to make sense that home is not a physical building at a specific place. Home has never been something made of brick and mortar but a sensation that I carry around with me. Life took me from my home in Punjab to a home in West London, only for me to then move to Coventry for university.

As somebody not particularly fond of travelling, yet who has moved between continents, I have learnt that home is not the place, you are born or where you live. It is the place where you feel you belong, and this feeling is something you carry around with you.

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