dublin

Dublin Diaries-8

Dublin Diaries-8

Looking beyond…

We will be completing three years in this lovely country, in November, and this country continues to keep me intrigued, revealing interesting new learnings every day.

This nation has endured immense hardships, undergone suffering and is now wanting to match strides with the other developed nations like America and its nearest neighbour, England. I find this admirable when I compare the mindset of this countrymen to the people in my country; and my tug of war with ‘Desh-bhakti’ commences. I never got the feeling of being an immigrant in this country. Unlike other immigrants my husband does not believe in living ‘amongst their own kind’. Conclusively, I live in a predominantly Irish locale, a very touristy part of the city. Yet, I don’t feel quaint or unwelcome or feel the prying distrustful eyes on me (like almost all immigrants feel globally). America has rebounded from the first Afro- American President rule, to building walls on the Mexican Border and making the immigration rules inordinately stringent. The developed world in a way is closing its doors on the rest of world, salvage its depleting resources, and revive their culture (especially the British). Don’t know much about the Americans, except that, I feel they cried ‘freedom’ too long and too loud. The meaning of freedom has been taken to extremes and appears like ‘individual anarchy’ today (to me). Every state, member of the house is demanding freedom, from what and who, they are confused, clueless and thus inconclusive.

Immigrants world over are now made to feel unwelcome; uncomfortable and apprehensive to say the least.  We watch over our shoulder, and wait for the bomb to drop. We don’t know when we may be asked to leave, when our papers might be rejected, when our continuance may not come through, it is all uncertain today. The world has not just shrunk in size, the inhabitants are forced to mark and guard their territory ferociously.  Yet, taking the citizenship of a developed country continues to lure the people of developing nations. Nothing seems to deter us, we still vie for foreign postings and a chance to make the first flight out of our own, abysmally failing country is more than welcome.  Thus, I find it doubly endearing that Ireland has not only kept its doors open to the immigrants, the Irish make them feel at home.

The Irish Times: “Last Sunday, on the morning of his 36th birthday, Leo Varadkar posed on the steps of the RTÉ Radio Centre, a bottle of water in hand, deep, tired circles under his eyes and a smile on his face. The deed was done. “I am a gay man . . . Looking back now, I always knew, but I didn’t know in my own mind really until maybe a year or two ago. I’m not sure why that is or was, but that’s just the way it is.”

The above – mentioned person is an Irish – Indian, the new leader of Ireland. The father is from Mumbai and mother is an Irish lady. Leo is their only son; they have 3 daughters, born and brought up in Dublin, Ireland. He first came to the limelight because of his honesty declared his personal preferences.  Ireland is still a very conservative, catholic dominated country; accepting a gay person is a huge step, moreover accepting a gay half Indian -half Irish person to be nominated for the most prominent leadership post in the country is a big change.  In times when the rest of world seems to be pulling the curtains over immigrants and trying to reclaim their lost indigenous status, Ireland willing to accept a gay, half Indian – Half Irish person to lead their country comes as a pleasant surprise, and reveals a very magnanimous side of this nation, which truly wants to see beyond religion, race, colour, a one world, unified brethren.

Despite being forced to acknowledge and intensely dislike the many faults my country has, I always have been a hardcore Indian. Travel the world, but the final resting place is home, and home is India.

That was the mindset with which I have lived all these years. So, coming to Ireland was also temporary for me, I always intended to go back home. We have lived two and half years here, and we can now apply for a long term stay permit, if we want to. And the truth I acknowledge to myself is, ‘I am open to the idea. I can spend the rest of my life in this country’. This is one of the few countries in the world which has made me feel like I can belong here, giving meaning to the phrase, ’home is where the heart is’. To be honest, my own country is plagued by interstate war. This country has won my heart, it does have its wars, of religion (catholic and protestants is a big issue here), women empowerment, problems of the youth are also on the rise. Yet, it is bold enough to face them head on, pick a young leader, a leader who dares to defy, does not fit the accepted nomenclature. But, they stand as one, for the country as a whole and not indulge in inter-county wars, bicker amongst themselves. They are trying to create a new blend of tradition and values which can be understood and imbibed by the present generation. Whereas in my own country, interstate wars are commonplace today, the prosperity of one state waves a green flag in the neighbouring state!

Ireland and India have more in common than I cared to acknowledge. I feel sad that we (our countrymen) have moved a step backward and are trying to break up our own country. No outsider wants to come home, we are ready to leave home, and to top it all what is left of our nation, we are very well disintegrating it. On the other hand, this country has moved forward, overcome its own limitations, fears and inhibitions and continues to retain its simplicity, see beyond the physical boundaries and make everyone feel one, belonged. A thing or more to learn form this thriving country.

Dublin Diaries – 3: TACSAI’ Tales –  Finally!

Dublin Diaries – 3: TACSAI’ Tales – Finally!

Writing about the Irish Independence took me through all the wrong alleys and made my last article a very serious one. I am keeping that part on hold and starting afresh on a lighter vein. So here comes, my Tacsai’ Tales.

I have already shared our first Taxi experience, on our way to the GNIB office (Immigration); the cheerful disposition our cabby had. Despite the horrible wind, rain and cold the taxi driver was cheerful, helpful and exceedingly smiling. That was the first time and I thought, he probably woke up on the right side of the bed, or had won a lottery, that’s why he could afford to smile through the unpleasant weather. Moreover, this weather must be like second nature to them so they can afford to be unconcerned was my last lame excuse.

Forget the weather and their ability to retain a cheerful demeanour through that unbecoming cold and extreme wind. That is just one tiny part. The other experiences I had with them reveal a ‘perfect character’. They exude a warmth which I have not been able to sense anywhere, world over. Not even in India, the country which is most known for its hospitality and giving nature.

Within a month of coming to this city my daughter and I bravely dropped off my son to the airport at 4:30am. This is such a feat for me because I would not have dared this even in India. I am very apprehensive about cab drivers, to travel alone in their company that too at such odd hours made me very afraid.  My daughter and I hailed a cab and gingerly tried to ‘see’ if the cabbie ‘looked’ safe or not. But all that was not necessary at all; the cabbie greeted me warmly (another thing I am still trying to get used to, they all greet you, wish you and smile with a natural ease) and started a simple conversation to put me at ease!

Cabbie: ‘Hello there! Early morning flight is difficult, eh?’

 Me: Smiled agreeing.

Cabbie: ‘This is the safest place, you can travel at any time and be safe. Nothing to worry in this country!’

I could only smile and nod. Yes, this is a safe place and the cabbie was reassuring me; helping me be brave and stop wringing my hands daughter out of nervousness.  In my flurry, I forgot the right turn to my house. The cabbie very patiently took an about turn, no show of temper or irritation.

One other instance that comes to mind is my first visit to my meditation centre. Like it always is; it was raining incessantly, horribly cold and was still dark at 7:45 a.m. Being a Sunday the roads were totally deserted. This time I was alone, not afraid anymore. I did carefully map the ashram address on my phone; yet the horrible rain and poor visibility made me nervous. I was unsure if I could ask the driver to hunt the exact gate, so that I need not have to step out in the rain and dark and find myself in the wrong gate! The driver himself took care of my predicament. He drove up and down the said road almost 4 times till we did not locate the exact gate. The huge gates were closed and I was actually embarrassed to ask him to wait for me, I wanted to check if the centre was open, else I could return home in the same cab! The cabbie read my mind; he waited till I did my cross checking and confirming, saw me safely inside the gate, wished me ‘Happy beneficial meditation’ and drove away with a smile.  How could my heart not flip for such genuine people?

They have a lovey sense of humour too. Once we (my husband and I) had to go to the social security office. After our work was done my husband headed straight to work and asked me to a taxi home. I was expecting he would drop me home and then go to work; so this change of plan mildly irritated me and I plonked myself into the taxi in a huff. The cabbie probably noticed the small altercation we had and the way I bundled into the taxi.

He cheerfully greeted me, ‘Lovely day, eh!’

I was in no mood to notice the ‘lovely day’ but not wanting to be rude I said, ‘Yes, it is! But my boss says I need to go home! So not so lovely anymore!’

Cabbie, ‘No young lady! You are the boss! How dare your man not obey the boss!’  

I already forgot my irritation and smilingly said, ‘No, no, in my country Man is the Boss, not the wife.’

Cabbie, ‘No young lady, you are wrong here, wife is the boss! Not the husbandJ! Like in my house; my wife is the Boss! World over women are the ‘Boss’!’

I started to laugh, his words did not apply to my house but they were so soothing and I still had hopeJ. 

He sweetly continued, ‘Look at me, we were in London, had a good job and life! My wife was bored there! She ordered that we move here, where the whole family lives! Now, I have to drive this taxi, earn for her!’

I laughed out loud now and asked,’ your wife must be working and earning too though?’

He turned back and gave me a grave look and said, ‘My wife is the Languishing Lady of luxurious shopping and lunches. That’s all that she does dear, believe me!’ I could not control my outburst anymore.

A cabbie informed me that Dublin (which means the ‘dark pool’) is the English name for ‘Baile Átha Cliath’, meaning “town of the hurdled ford“. He even tried to teach me some basic Gaelic.

Another cabbie said, ‘India and our country have a lot in common. We started the first rebellion against the British and Gandhi carried forward the baton to India.’

These are a few ‘Tacsai tales’. There are many more; every time I step into a cab I step out with some new knowledge or a smile on my face, or both.