Thursday, May 11, 2006

Cold Climates Colder Hearts?

My Mother recently made this comment under emotional duress - distances and cold climates kill warmth in our hearts. Our personal agendas and our immediate world consume us so totally that we have little care for what else happens around the world or to our extended families.

Most Indian families will have at least one relation staying outside the country, sometimes they are very close relations who choose to move away in search of better prospects and incomes. Longer distances from home may mean lesser frequencies of visits back home, at times they come back after years and years and all distances melt away and it seems like as if they had never left. At times it seems that some stranger has come in place of the person we originally knew and it is so hard to make the connection that we were used to.

I have watched both these situations up close. In one situation a daughter came to visit her Mother after a period of 20 years, the first time since her Father passed away. This was also the first time her mother would see her two grown children who had never been to India before. The mother still had limitless love and affection which would engulf not only her daughter but also the new found grand children but the daughter had emotionally drifted away and barely managed to exchange a few words now and then with her Mother. At one point I heard her saying "I don't want to go anywhere with Ma as I don’t quite know how to handle her". I guess that statement sums it all up.

Thankfully there is a brighter side as well, I have also seen people return and blend into the family as if they had never left, the parties and get togethers, the little thoughtful gifts for each and everyone in the family, visiting the people who have aged and the long conversations over lunches and dinners at home with our fingers and plates all dry with caked gravy residue. It's always a joy having them around and we look forward to their visits.

Maybe distances and colder climates do lead to mental and emotional distances as well, maybe the pressures of living away from home in a strange country do take their toll, maybe definitions of 'home' change but no distances should be that great that they cant be bridged with a warm smile.


The Comic Project said...

out of sight out of mind :-(
Confession time too
Each time I leave the country, I want to come back even more desperately. But I feel myself drifting away from the people I am close to. Weirdly, this doesn't happen with friends but happens only with family. I now find that I almost don't identify with them the way I did a few years ago and this after being away for just 2 years in the last 8. And i don't make the effort to connect.

In my defence, I have always been a bit of a loner, a bit aloof. I know I know you find that hard to believe :-)

The Comic Project said...

1st comment :)

BlondebutBright said...

Yes, but speaking from experience it's not so easy to just "blend in" again. Not only have you changed, but those around you expect that you've changed, so you can no longer feel completely a part of something that once made up your whole self.

Then again, you have a richer life experience.

Albatross said...

@bright: Coming back is not so easy, but again it's a gradual process, isn't it? One has to adapt to changing environment and people around her/him. Give everyone some time and things will start falling into place !

@chatterbai: Lines from you again made me think ! I think not only distance across the seas but also distance within the country is bound to change things around you. Nowadays when I go to Mumbai for vacations, I sometimes feel I am a guest in this city !

Kausum said...

I would say it all depends on your attitude. You can chose to live near your extended family even if you stay at a distance from them. With means of communication, this is possible. But you can chose to give more importance to your own lives and get enstranged. I would say it is a delicate act of balancing and not easy

M (tread softly upon) said...

I shudder to think that it may be true. What I think happens, and I speak from personal experience, is that when you live far away for too long, one starts to get detached from the nitty gritty daily lives of their family and loved ones. Which ends up giving you a sort of detached attachment (if you know what I mean). You don't seem to relate with the things that are important to them, or happen to be going on around them because your life and its center is thousands of miles away. It is sad. But it happens. And that is what brings in a little aloofness and the feeling that things have changed. In reality everything is the same. It's just the way we perceive things.

Kausum said...

I think, it is a question of priority. We prioritize our emotions to issues. More or less it deals with our immediate lives and issues. So at the end of the day we are not able to deal with things not directly affecting us (or so we perceive). Living in the same city can also alienate us.

However, in the blog "Cold Climates, Colder Hearts", I would say peopel in colder climates I perceive you refer to the developed countries are industrial economies. Which is different from India which is still at a a balance and not entirely industrialized. Think about how hectic your life is in Mumbai compared to other cities. Now multiply it by 10 when you are at industrial economies. So finally you perceive that you dont have time.

But someone told me once - " Only the lazy dont find time .. There is always time available for everything" I still do not know if this is true

jhantu said...

Home is where the heart is. Thats what defines it. As simple as that

ichatteralot said...

@TCP: Maybe friends dont require much but relatives are very demanding so if we dont meet up to their expectations, everything becomes so COLD!

I know - its almost impossible to beleive!

@BBB: I agree - its not easy to blend in - especially if one has moved away in the younger years.

@Albatross: You are right - Bombay and Calcutta are separated by 2000 km - however till date I manage to feel quite at home in Calcutta whenever I return.

@Kausum: I beleive sensitivity is the key, if we are sensitive to our surroundings then we can balance things quite easily.

@m (tread softly upon): I could not have put it better - its as if the center of gravity shifts altogether.

@Kausum: I cannot agree that people in the so called developed countries are busier than us. People in France and Germany work 30 hours a week, in USA I haven't seen many people stay in office after 5. They will also never compromise their family time to come to work on weekends. It can be true of only some professions but that is the same all around the world and not only US.

Yes true - people living in same cities become aloof, lifestyles change, idealogies change and we drift away. Time however was never a deterrent if we want to go and meet someone whom we genuinely like.

@Jhantu: Agree completely :) My heart is still in Calcutta...