It's like coming home. I only come here on average once every couple of years, but after all, home is where the family is. The thing that surprised me a little, though, was how much it felt like I'd found a part of myself that was missing. Being Indian is something I don't get enough of while I'm at Berkeley, and that's dangerous, because it really is an integral part of my identity.
I am very Indian in some ways, and less so in others. In a lot of circumstances, my values are similar, but the reasons behind them different. I am very close to my parents, and I dearly value my family, but I'm not religious. I'm too Indian to wear short skirts in Hyderabad and too American to wear a salwar in Berkeley. The most Indian thing I've done there is to eat the food my mom gave me with my hands instead of a spoon because I felt rebellious (and tired of trying to eat something that wasn't made for a spoon with a spoon).
Here, I get to show off my Indian side and speak Telugu most of the day without a second thought. I don't think I could be this person all the time, because the American half of me is just as important. But the American half is usually the one that gets to go out and play while the Indian half sits inside, staring wistfully out the window.
Being here is also a relief from some of the pressures I face in American society. I'm sure being on summer vacation and not having much work to deal with is a major factor in my current relaxed state, but there are other things as well. For instance, I'm 20 and I've never had a boyfriend. But here, it doesn't matter, because there's no expectation that I should have a boyfriend. Of course, it also goes the other way. There are social pressures here that aren't present in America. It's just nice to deal with something different for a while.
And seriously, salwar kamizes are so much prettier than pants and shirts.