On the day I was born in India, my father flew to Queens, NY to finish his medical education. My mother followed three months later and I was left to be raised by my grandparents. As a young child I knew that my parents lived elsewhere, and that I was in a temporary habitat. I felt special but also felt like an outsider in my own homeland. I would often stand on the roof of the house I grew up in and look at the moon and see if I could find my parents.
I came to the United States at the age of 5, reunited with my parents and began a new life in suburban New Jersey. I lived a life filled with expectations: my parents, society’s, my own and what it means to be Indian American growing up in NJ. My project, Generation 1.75 is a metaphorical and lyrical look at themes of loss, unrootedness, and gained perspective in my personal journey of migration, identity, and the emotions that accompany the lifelong exploration of where I belong and who I am.
I often feel of two worlds, sometimes not quite settled, not fully rooted. I am part of Generation 1.5/1.75, a termed coined by Professor Ruben Rumbaut in 1969 to distinguish those who immigrate as children from their parents who immigrate as adults. As immigrant children, there is a discontinuity with our origins due to inherited circumstance beyond our control. This exploration of self, often using the narrative of the natural world, helps me understand the precarious balance of integration and alienation, neither here nor there and then sometimes also both here and there. I am sometimes the alienated insider, sometimes the Other, and at times, fully and easily assimilated. Growing up multicultural can be conflicting and is a constant balancing act, a gift and a burden all at the same time.