Nancy Gandhi, 65, Writer/Blogger in Chennai
In India: 30 years
I came to India in the mid-1980s as a diplomat, married a Gujarati from Calcutta, and settled in Chennai. At that time there was only one TV channel, and few foreigners. No internet, many import restrictions, a largely traditional society. When ‘foreign’ vegetables first started coming into the markets, I saw a zucchini one day, and my eyes filled with tears of happiness. Now, Chennai is an industrial city, an IT city. It has swallowed up villages, and added enough foreigners to support an international school. I can buy quinoa at the grocery store. Cable TV is omnipresent, and has influenced the country in ways which cannot yet be fully comprehended. I love Chennai. When I was learning how to live here, I had many teachers; primarily my husband, who is ready to discuss and analyse anything, and who has supported me in so many ways. Other teachers are friends and the people with whom I must communicate in their languages, not in English. It is a wonder to be able to swim in a sea of different languages. We enjoy music, arts, food from every region of this country, which is a world in itself. I once stood out because of my foreignness. Now I’m no longer a curiosity, unless I speak in Tamil, or Hindi or Urdu, which usually makes people light up with pleased surprise.
Today, India is poised on the brink of an uncertain future. The people desperately hope that it will move forward and prosper. Many whom I know fear that it could also step backwards into communalism, divisiveness, even violence. I hope with all Indians that the country which is now my home will take that forward step.