Out of all the places in the world, this is where I grew up. Fontana to be exact. The Original 909 (yes, my business card still has my 909 phone number and I get a few chuckles from people in the know). It’s home. No matter how far I go, I will always come back, and I think it will feel more normal than anywhere else I live. It’s interesting, because living in an actual foreign country, you realize what it means to be a foreigner, a perpetual outsider. I think people like moving to big cities, like San Francisco, Chicago, New York, DC, in order to get away, get a fresh start, to start over. But do millions of foreigners migrating to a city make being a “foreigner” the new “local”? I don’t have a good answer, but I know it’s a question that a lot of smart people, are trying to understand. But as for me, there’s something incredibly special coming back to the people you grew up with, who know where you took root, to be understood in a way many people can’t even begin to fathom.
It’s funny, no matter how far I went, the people I grew up with out here were..are…always with me, and continue to be some of my best friends, and some of the smartest people I know. More than 10 years later, I still go back to them for life advice, insights, talking about the future, pretty much anything, I know I can count on them for sound feedback, and in a pinch, I know that they would be at my side, no questions asked. It’s such a rare quality, and yes, I found that out here in the I.E. I don’t know how many people can say they found that…anywhere really.
I suppose I was thinking about it because nowadays, my circles usually involve the upper echelons of society, the intellectual elite, the intelligentsia. Both in India and the US. And it feels so strange. In India, I can see this gaping hole between conversations that happen at the higher levels and what happens to the “average Indian”, mostly because I feel like a third party (who by no means is an expert but at least I know there is something going on there). But coming home, I see the same things happening in the US too. Which is probably why it is usually hard for me to participate in conferences (both in India and the US), or why I generally detest them. I just feel so..inadequate, and unable to intelligently talk about a situation which, for the most part, apparently I grew up in? Which still confuses me to no end, because I don’t really know what America I grew up in, but all I know it was different from a lot of people but not as bad as people think? I don’t know. But mostly, I just sit there and wonder how these people are so confidently talking about things which… I don’t know how to even begin to understand and breakdown? Is it the third party objectivity that allows them to do this? Arrogance? Ignorance? All of the above?
I don’t know. I suppose it’s one of those things that you file away, hopefully using the years to add on to, and to one day have a good answer.