This article first appeared in Scroll.In on October 4, 2022
As I walked from the ramp onto solid ground, it was as if my feet were standing on a lifetime of stories: my heritage, the soil in which my family tree had taken root and grown. It was 1964, three years before our move to London, and I had just made a very different journey; stepping off a ship into another world. Back then, Mumbai was still Bombay, a bustling port full of noise and energy. I gazed wide-eyed at the magnificent Gateway of India near the famous Taj Hotel, places I had only heard of or seen in photos.
But the thing which made me audibly gasp was greater than the splendour of any bricks and mortar. The people. The people all looked like me.The feeling of belonging was overwhelming. So, this is how it feels to fit in! I’d had no idea. It is still difficult to put it into words, the intense emotion of those first steps, entering my country of origin, the sense of coming home. No longer did I feel different. Instead, I felt I could walk freely without fear. To this day, every visit to India makes the same unique and dramatic impression on me.