From Argentina to India to me

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Docu-Madrid (a 2-week documentary film festival) has just started and yesterday Boyfriend and I watched 5 films — yes we totally doc-ed out! 🙂

My favourite was one called Fotografías, which is the autobiographical story of an Argentinean man who has an Indian mother. His mother ran away from her traditional, suppressed household to be free and see the world; she landed up marrying an Argentinean man and moving there.

Her life in India prohibited her as a women from doing anything, it represented her imprisoned life and she wanted to be as far away from it as possible, both physically and mentally — so unfortunately while his mother was alive, he was never really exposed to India.

The movie is his quest to discover his mother’s life in India, understand her legacy, and explore his Indian bloodline. His story begins in Argentina as he looks through childhood photos, speaks to an Indian guru living in Buenos Aires, and studies the life of an Hispanic author who was the first Argentinean man to go to India in 1911. He speaks to everyone who knew his mother, and befriends an Argentinean who spends most of his time in India as a tour guide.

With this background and many a told stories, he heads Madras in India, to see his mother’s birthplace and reconnect with that side of his family.

The film documents the story of this Argentinean man, who because of his mixed-blood and estranged family in India, is lost about the other half of his identity. Realizing his ignorance and wanting to find a part of his identity he knows nothing about, triggers his endeavors to fill the gaps by finding his mother’s side of the family, therefore finding himself in some way.

His story is beautifully told, full of emotions ranging from feelings of emptiness and confusion that lead to deep curiousity, resulting in him finding a life of his he never knew existed. He unravels his story, layer by layer, and takes you on this mysterious journey that begins in Argentina, dips deep into traditional India, and ends up back in Argentina. His discoveries give him a new family, a new understanding of his mother, and of his Indian bloodline.

Although my life story is not remotely mysterious, nor confusing, as and Indian who has lived in 5-countries over 28 years, I could relate to his identity-crisis. Not knowing enough about where you come from or where you belong, can often leave you perpetually drifting, and sometimes even hollow. You don’t know what to be patriotic about, you can’t relate clearly to your home-place: you know you belong there, but you are not sure what you’d do if you had to move back there…things like that.

The film made me want to go back to India and travel. I have traveled a lot of the world, but not enough of my own country, that’s quite sad. It’s funny how I don’t feel like I belong in India, nor am I patriotic — yet I am proud of my country, I feel Indian, and I take it for granted, yet I don’t really know enough about my country, not physically, not historically. Everything in my mind is confused about my “Motherland”. My only solid connection is my family there and my memories from high-school in Aurangabad — a small town near Pune.

Anyway, I’m delving into a subject that doesn’t really have a conclusion, nor does it need one. Exploring my country should be the next priority on my list of things to do — that should take care of many things, no?

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