Distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I am certainly no exception. Being away from my homeland India for the last 5-6 years has not only made me miss my great country every day, but made me realize the importance of our ‘customs and traditions’, the ‘unconditional love and care that we receive from our parents all our lives’, and above all, India’s rich cultural legacy which makes it stand apart from others in myriad aspects.
In pursuit of career growth and excellence, I moved with my husband to London some 5-6 years ago. While it was tough initially coping with the new lifestyle of London, we settled with passage of time. London became a home away from home for us when we made friends with the Indian community settled there. There are approximately 1.4 million Indians settled in the UK which by any standards is a humungous figure that incidentally also totals up as the single largest visible ethnic minority population of the country.
Bonding frequently with our Indian friends over festivals and other special occasions had brought all of us so close that London literally became a second home for all of us. Little did we realize that it was the Indian community that made us sustain and beat the home sickness blues all these years. As a matter of fact, we celebrated festivals like Diwali, Holi, Lohri with more devotion and fervor than we used to when we were in India. All for the simple reason that we naturally tend to cherish the worth of things in life when they go far away from us.
With our UK visa on the threshold of expiring, life posed another big challenge, as it meant bidding adieu to UK, a place which had become close to our hearts because of the attachment and the bond that we had formed with our special Indian friends.
However, as luck would have it, we had no option but to finally relocate from London to Dublin, the charming capital of Ireland in December 2016. Known for its easy going life, scenic beauty and cultural heritage, Dublin seemed fascinating at the first sight, but there was something amiss. The fact that there weren’t many Indians is what ached us. Unlike London, Ireland doesn’t comprise a big Indian population. Sardonically, the few Indians that I met also didn’t seem very keen in socializing.
Taking a leaf out of the inspirational ageless adage, “Necessity is the mother of all inventions”, the thought of floating a Ladies group struck me. This led to the creating of a Facebook Page titled “Indian Ladies in Ireland” in March this year. In the three months of the group’s existence, we have already organized about two amazing get-togethers. For all the members of the group, the feeling is mutual and overwhelming to be staying culturally and vibrantly connected. Far away from our Motherland, we have all discovered a new way of bonding as one closely knit unit.
While the total strength of the ladies group presently stands close to 300, the number is only growing with passage of time. The holistic aspect about our initiative being that we lend vital support to all members of the group irrespective of any bias or prejudice. For instance, we are also helping them to showcase and promote the craftsmanship and creative ingenious in Indian community.
Then there’s a group member named Neha Gupta, who has been living in Ireland for many years. Making Indian sweets comes naturally to her. While she had pursued it as a hobby for long, she was inspired to go professional in this field only after meeting all the like-minded members of the group who are always there to support and motivate other members in their respective fields. We encourage our members to grow professionally, and help provide them sterling support which makes all the difference in the world.
Personally speaking, I feel immensely content and rewarded being the source of joy for others. I feel equally overwhelmed when my fellow members thank me for bringing them together in this mini-India group based in Dublin, Ireland.
I had requested the ladies to come dressed in the traditional attire, the salwar suits for our first get together. After initial reluctance, everyone agreed in unison, and they all came dressed in their best of salwar suits.
The feeling was simply glorious as we all felt elated to be a part of a group where we felt completely at home, and not like some aliens. During our get together, we also emphasized upon how we all must sincerely strive to maintain our cultural and ethnic identity, irrespective of where we go, India or overseas. We unanimously agreed that we must wear India proudly on our sleeves, sans any hang ups or fuss.
In times to come, our ladies group will not only grow in number, but will also become culturally more vibrant as we plan to organize many more events that will not only consolidate our bond, but will also showcase the rich Indian legacy and culture to others.
I take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the fellow members of our group without whom all this would not have been possible.
Needless to say, our life has acquired a new found charm and meaning with the formation of “Mini India in Ireland” ladies group. Kudos to all my friends!!