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Deepa Sundararajan | November 05, 2003 14:23 IST

It has been two years since I left home for the first time and flew to the 'promised land'. It is amazing how fast Time flies, for I still remember everything clearly.

I was sinking into depression. Four universities had rejected my application and, with my MSc programme nearing its end, I had totally freaked out. The future seemed bleak and all my dreams were heading for the drain. Sleep had I had become strangers -- I would be awake at four in the morning, checking my email. And then, I saw it -- the mail from a university in Chicago, offering an admission to their PhD programme.

I started smiling again.

When I said goodbye to my family at the airport and got into the plane, I had no regrets. I was way too excited about going to a new place, finding new friends and, above all, getting to do what I had always wanted to do in life, to even think about all that I was leaving behind.

A year passed. A year full of fun, parties, new friends and work that fascinated me. It was time to go home for the holidays. I wasn't homesick, but I was really excited. I saw the welcome sign at the Chennai international airport and had never been happier seeing anything else in life. Subconsciously, it made me realise how much I missed my country, my family and my friends.

The month passed quickly with visits to relatives and friends, and with stuffing my stomach with all my favourite dishes so that I could last out the next year in the US.

I was sitting in Frankfurt, waiting for the plane to take off to Chicago, when homesickness hit me in a big way. I wanted to get off the plane and take the next flight home, to Chennai. I was sick at the thought of being alone, of being away from my family for another year. It was frightening.

But I did get over it. A day after I had landed in Chicago, I had put my homesickness in the backseat and started to enjoy life once again. Of course, the frequency of my phone calls home increased from once a month to once a week.

Another year passed. This time around, I couldn't wait to get back to Chennai. It felt like my body was drained of energy and I needed to get back home for at least a month to recharge myself fully. So I was off to Chennai again, hoping to come back refreshed and ready to plunge into my thesis work again.

I couldn't have been more wrong!

When I returned to Chicago this time, I felt empty. Alone. Totally out of place among my friends. Parties had lost their fun.

Homesickness has hit me so strongly that, even after a month, the feeling is yet to melt into thin air. I want to run back home, but I know that I will never do that without getting my PhD.

Is it funny that the longer I stay away from home, the better it seems to me?

Is it pathetic that I find it hard to completely enjoy a place that's more comfortable and more happening than my city?

Am I crazy to miss the arguments with my parents, the leg pulling from my brother, the maddening crowds near the marketplace, the sound of my native language and the irritating yet caring interference from my neighbours?

I don't know the answers, but I do know one thing -- I miss my home too much not to return there to continue my life. To quote a famous dialogue, 'I'll be back.'

Illustration: Dominic Xavier


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Number of User Comments: 33




Sub: I agree

i'm glad to see other people who feel the same and i thought you;d like to know that i went through the same gamut of ...


Posted by neethi





Sub: real one

this is a feeling that most NRIs share.nothing can equal the real joy we enjoy in our country,chennai may lack the glamour of chicago, but ...


Posted by sharan





Sub: echoes my sentiments

its been 2 years and a few months ..and i have made two visits back home as well ... the time is coming close when ...


Posted by Ravi





Sub: Nice Article

It is a beautiful article. I m here in US and its been just 6 months since I came here. But I have already started ...


Posted by Isha





Sub: Phir bhi Dil hai Hindustani!

Hi, I totally understand these feelings! Like many others, I am pursuing my Masters here in the US. I had a lovely one month break ...


Posted by Kosh




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