I’m very excited to be writing my first blog post for CASI Student Programs after about three years. In the summer of 2012, Christina and Sam (my fellow Aravind summer interns) would sit on our beds in Madurai and agonize about our word structure and try and conceive hilarious puns for our blog posts. This time around, I’m in Chennai, excited to start my time as the Sobti Family Fellow, even if it is without the reassuring camaraderie of the souls who lent their names to our “Nandhawuware” trifecta.
Coming to India after time spent away is always an adjustment for me. Even though I grew up in the subcontinent, it’s like I forget how things actually are when I go away. When I got to Chennai, part of me started missing Canada immediately: the relative serenity, the lower volume of speech, the use of horns purely during an emergency, the lower temperatures, the absence of constant reminders of my privilege. But despite all of that, I know that I want to be here, and I’ve wanted to be here for a long time now. I’ve talked to many friends about wanting to be in India, but also expressed my fear and insecurity at moving to a country where I don’t really know that many people. I talked to them about opportunities, and then dismissed them, only to eventually hear an exasperated friend say, “I think you should just move, just so you will stop talking about it all the time.”
That was a sound piece of advice, and I followed it.
And the Sobti fellowship has given me the opportunity to do what I’ve wanted to for a long time: to study the art form that I love, in a place that I love. I’ll be starting off my tenure by working with Theatre Nisha in Chennai, studying the play development process. Once I feel comfortable and well-adjusted in India, I’ll pack my bags and head to Mumbai to study the evolution of English theatre in that city.
While I am excited to start my work and throw myself into meeting people and interviewing them next week (there’s a podcast in the works too), right now I am content with staying indoors, under the air conditioning unit, adjusting to the smells and sounds and heat of Chennai. And all the while, I’m thinking, “I’m in India. I will be in India for the next 9 months. Wow.”
Stay tuned for more visually appealing blog posts in the near future!