Part 24

England felt old and familiar in the way that
America seemed new and strange. April grey,
like a blurry photograph, literature and history
popping out of the incessant drizzle, scratching

the learnt distress of a colonial past, a question
stuck at the back of my throat. I straddle zero-
degree longitude, splitting myself between east
and west. Isn’t a line both a meeting and a

separation? Both imagined and real? I file past
the Kohinoor like a thousand others, in silence. I
stare at a white peacock in Leeds. In Shakespeare’s
garden, a bust of Tagore stares back at me. In the

British museum, I see bronze statues from Tanjavur,
a thousand years old. The Thames sees me from
under its bridges, a winding poem in rigid meter
and rhyme. I look up at an Egyptian obelisk,

curious like an aubade at sunset. The first of
many I would see. Elsewhere. Everything is
entangled. There is no other way to be. Back in
New Jersey, they look down at my visa. Why are

you here? The line. Both crossing and belonging.
They are not interested in my trip to England. I
live here, I say. That is not the answer they want.
So much that is so right is, almost always, so wrong.


31 thoughts on “Part 24

  1. You have travelled a lot, Rajani. I like that England felt old and familiar and the US new and strange. That is very apt, North America is very young and brash and full of itself. In its teen years at the moment.


  2. Why are you here? A familiar question asked by those who feel superior to you. I was asked that by the police several times, best remembered was me as a young man pulled over when riding my motorcycle over another town’s Main Street on my way to the Bay. I too feel very comfortable in England, all the British Isles, we’ve been there maybe 20 times, or more. Our daughter and family lived there five years. Traveling, we just returned from there on November 23 again this year. Earlier we were there in March and April

    Keep up with your write, I enjoy reading it.


    1. Absolutely, it does feel like a superiority/ power-trip thing. UK is excellent to visit, I went subsequently several times on work… varied experiences. Glad you’re enjoying it… more travel as this rolls along.


  3. We each have our own experiences of a place, I guess. I enjoyed many things about the UK, but London struck me as a huge graveyard, a rather shudder-making glorification of the dead. (Even though I said warm mental hellos to Chaucer’s plaque in Westminster Abbey and John Donne’s statue in St Paul’s.) I loved what I saw of America, on two different visits – despite a very rude and bullying airport clerk as we first entered the country. But he was an exception; everyone else was perfectly lovely.


  4. It’s so sad, that we are made to feel outcast in lands where we were not born. I have felt it, and I don’t feel like leaving home anymore – incessant drizzle or no! The current government’s policies toward outsiders is abhorrent.


  5. To travel is to take one’s global place — afoot, carrying one’s home in heart and encountering it afar, both stolen and embraced. “Entangled,” as you say, a great word from physics concurrent of sine and wave. Love the sense of here and there with one foot each at zero latitude, the undercurrent of dispossession, not only of one’s homeland but also in the series of a heart disrupted by broken love. Another well crafted part of the series.


  6. This touches some familiar places in my internal landscape too. I visited my parent’s country, Peru, when I was little and for a while I thought we were going to move back there. But I was born in New Jersey, and my “otherness” was always in my mind.


    1. True, our own apprehension is sometimes compounded by structural issues that reinforce that otherness. Still living elsewhere, for a while, is a learning experience, things you can’t imagine from within your comfort zone.. good and bad.


  7. Why are you here? and Where are you from? Questions I get quite a bit while traveling (I think it’s my Southern accent). I love the metephor of the ‘line’ you speak of. This is great writing!


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