Landing in India

The flight is due to land at Indira Gandhi airport of New Delhi and the plane is travelling across the large city, passing through the thick layer of clouds, smog and pollution. When the plane is close to landing, the whole large metal cylinder is filled with a familiar smell or scent of India, something that others might find repulsive. But to me it’s filled with memories, emotions and a touch of belonging. Tears are filled up in my eyes when the plane hits the ground. I’m home. Once again.

The hotel we stayed at isn’t worth mentioning due to the overall experience wasn’t all too well, but there were some highlights of the service level and staff that is worth mentioning. The two nights in Delhi were a good touch-down base before our onward departuring to Punjab. You get a moment of acclimatising to the Indian climate, food and the senses get hightened. 

I have been writing a lot through the years about belonging and identity since it has always been a struggle for me, being born in Sweden and having roots from such a colourful culture that is India. The clash between these two extreme worlds has been both a blessing and a curse, since it has opened me up to so much inner personal development I never would have been striving for if it weren’t for being torn in two directions. I have previously written about being a TCK in a world of being around people that have almost no other mixed background, which makes you feel different and strange from time to time. When I during the recent years found myself searching more inwards in my own identity crisis and started to accept that I am fine the way I am, both Swedish and Indian, I was able to grow strength to be able to tell my story. I felt for the first time that I was able to connect with other people that have a similar background, and my creativity became more heightened. 

The last day at the Delhi hotel, we ate dinner in the restaurant at the hotel to be a bit more convenient and also to not have to rush around in Delhi traffic at that hour. No matter if we choose to or not, we eventually adapt to eating at Indian times, which is quite different than dining times in Sweden. Back home in Sweden one would eat dinner at 6-7 pm and lunch at 11-12 am. When we’re in India the dinner times are around 8-9pm and lunch around 1-2pm. I think it might be due to the fact that people go to work a little later on and leave later, which makes the whole day shift a few hours.
When we were dining at 8 pm at the hotel, the waiter asked us if we were from Sweden since he could see it in our booking. Obviously he could tell we had some sort of Indian (desi) background so he asked if we were here for the first time. I responded, no we’ve been here many times before since our background is from Punjab. He asked if we were born here or in Sweden, and this is where things would have been confusing if I were to trust my past experiences of being put in a box. His response to us being born in Sweden, was the sweetest I have received in India in a long time. He said, then you’re just as much Indian as you are Swedish and he smiled and giggled a bit. I agreed and he went on to talk to other guests in the restaurant. He probably didn’t know what that sentence meant to me, how much it meant that someone would acknowledge us as being part of this society and still be able to keep the other identity. He truly saw our Indian soul. We didn’t have to feel torn and puzzled between the two cultures. Not being forced to choose when someone asks us which one we consider our home, or which one we like the most. There can never be a clear answer to that question, I am always searching, and the more I search, the more questions I get. 

The best part of being born in two cultures is the richness it gives to my life, to be able to live a life with both influences on a day to day basis. To be able to pick and choose (most of the times) what we like with each culture and keep those aspects in our life for the next generation. Coming to India annually means much more to me than can be put into words, it can never be explained, the emotions that run through my body when I land 7000 km away from Sweden. Despite being more restricted to do exactly what I want as a woman, to come and go at any hour, and having difficulties adapting to the lifestyle here; I still feel more alive and free. There’s a freedom and acceptance in the air in India one cannot find anywhere else. I might be biased, but that’s my truth. 

Sat Sri Akal, Namaste, Peace and Love,
Kimmi Madeline

The Struggles of Writing a Novel

This journey of writing my novel started way back, I believe it was almost 8 years ago when I got the idea to write a book. I started it off and a year later I changed my mind and didn’t continue with that story. It all went back and forth and I was having inspirational periods of time when I really put all my energy into it, and becoming disappointed at the process a few months later. The struggles of writing was a fact. I had always been writing poems and journaling, so that never really stopped throughout this time – but my book story was halting and was eventually paused for a few years due to lack of inspiration.

I intended to write a story that involves a lot of multicultual aspects to it, and things were by that time happening in my life that made me feel that I didn’t need to write that story anymore, until I went to India a couple of years ago. Something really hit me during that trip and everything came back to me, my desire to write my story. That is what I am doing right now. I am more determined than ever to complete it this time around. The intention is to write almost everyday, or at least sit with it every day and see what comes to me. If I ever find myself doubting or having writer’s block, I now know that I can get through it and move past it. It’s all about how much motivation and desire to write the book you have, because if you don’t have that, the book is never going to write itself.

I have made myself a little soft deadline to follow, which makes it easier for me to follow through. By the end of this year I will have a complete draft version of the entire story. I will edit it several times after that and ask very nicely to one of my dearest friends if he wants to read it, which he’s promised to do. 🙂 I just haven’t finished the book for more than 6 years. Long overdue. The idea is to try to get it published, otherwise I will self-publish it and distribute it myself. For me the importance is to get it out there and have it completed, that is my ambition and goal. I hope that my story can can help someone who’s been in my situation as well.

Stay tuned here for more information on this topic. I know several of you have been cheering on throughout the years and wanting to read it, I am very grateful for having all the support from people all over the world. Writing is our passion but it is just as well a very difficult passion to have. No matter what, you can’t live without it.

Peace and Love,

Kimmi Niroopinder Sandhu

P.S. Some of you might have noticed me using my real names interchangably, and there is no other explanation than an identity crisis. 🙂 Swedish vs Indian. Always struggling, always real.

Travelling is my Drug | Nomadic Traveller

Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.

– Anthony Bourdain

I can’t seem to help it, this underlying urge to always leave and be on the road to somewhere else. I love the feeling of not belonging to one place, I like belonging to the world. Open. Free. Endless possibilities. I believe it has to do with my two cultures, Swedish and Indian. I love them both, almost equally. Almost. I weigh them back and forth, compare and contrast, which one do I like the most. For the moment.

Being a TCK (third culture kid) or more like a CCK (cross-cultural kid) in my particular case, one will always have to deal with these emotions of not belonging to a certain degree. Rootlessness. Mixed cultural belonging. Struggle to fit in. All of these things are all based in a TCKs/CCKs childhood of being brought up in a mixed cultural environment, where the guidelines of how to deal with it has been missing. Especially during the 90s/00s in Sweden. Growing up in Sweden, in an area where there were no immigrants, has its impact in the long term.

The travelling aspect of my life doesn’t only have to do with physical travelling from one place to another, I am almost always somewhere in a bubble. Typical Pisces behaviour, for those that know astrology. It’s a hard struggle to always remind myself to come back to reality, but when dreaming becomes part of your everyday life to survive, it’s hard to resist. If I knew how to astral travel, I’d be addicted to it. Sounds like such an amazing ability to be able to visit both places and people in all kinds of spaces.

Someone was describing how a TCK walks through life, as if we stand constantly at the airport gate, anxious, waiting for our flight somewhere, walking back and forth until we board our flight. That’s when we calm down and relax, in the window seat of the plane, viewing the endless skies and clouds overlooking everything. That feeling makes me truly feel alive. Never understood why, until I read about being a TCK. Check out my other post on what it is about and my experience up until now, here.

Peace and love,

Kimmi Madeline

Piku|Hindi Movie – My Thoughts

“Apni roots unko agar ukhad do, toh kya bachega..”

– Piku.

I have watched this Hindi film around three times in total. I rarely watch a film more than one time unless it’s a film that has left some impact on me. It’s a very simple film with many layers of importance and deeper meaning that really show when you start looking deeper at what is happening.

The whole aspect of accepting your roots and where you really come from, to be at peace with that is necessary to be able to live a full and complete life. She struggled a lot with the idea whether to keep the house in Calcutta or not when her dad will pass away. When Irfan Khan’s character tells her the sentence that’s written above, which roughly translates to: If you rip out the roots, what will there be left..

I got shivers down my spine, and felt instantly very emotional, because of how I could relate that so well with my relation to India and my roots. I started crying, at first without really knowing why. It’s been a very rocky road to get to this state of mind, for me to accept and be open and fine with being multicultural. Today vs me 10 years ago are entirely different people, and I am so thankful for that. I am ever grateful for being able to say that I enjoy these layers of my roots and accepting them, not ripping them out and hope that there would be something left. I can’t believe how one is suppose to build anything without the roots.

Highly recommend the film to anyone who like an Indian cultural drama which brings up any everyday topics in a both light manner but also to end it with a lot of different emotions. It is truly a roller coaster ride in your inner world, especially if you’re anything like me and have had struggles with acceptance of roots and a mixed background. I do believe that it might only be fully appreciated by someone who understands the quirks of growing up in an entirely Desi environment.

Peace and Love,

Kimmi Madeline

Mumbai Dreams…

It’s been 2 ½ weeks since we came back from India this time around. The India fever has been running high ever since I came back home, been binge-watching Hindi films during these past few weeks to try to grasp for the last few straws of India that I had left in me from the trip. Why do I feel this way these days? Am I making up for all those years when I didn’t feel that I belonged neither here or there? Am I getting more sentimental with time, more than I already am? I don’t have an answer to all these questions, all I know is that writing has been my only saviour; it helps me cope with my complicated and scattered emotions about belonging.

I just started reading the book The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri and have also watched the film by Mira Nair based on the same novel. That film hit a spot in my heart and I can’t help but to cry tears of recognition and melancholy. The pain and the suffering is too close to heart. Writing these words after watching the film, aren’t written without a tear in my eyes. At least they clean the vision and hopefully I can see clearly now what I have long wanted to see. Me and who I truly am. There’s never been a need to pretend but I didn’t realise that when I was younger. You don’t have to try to fit in when you know you don’t. Being unique is what is best.

Ever since the second day of visiting Mumbai in November, I knew that I had found my missing piece of inspiration. My long lost inspiration for writing my story, my book. I found it again, in the heart of Mumbai. I could see the waves coming into the shore and we were driving by the south side of Mumbai, feeling the breeze from the opened window. My hair was getting messy in the wind, but I didn’t mind at all, I felt at peace. I knew I had found my way back, to my core. I think that’s why I have had my “identity crisis” with the endless watching of Hindi films, trying to see if I can relate to any of it. I don’t feel the need to relate anymore, I already know what was missing all along. My acceptance.

Peace and Love,
Kimmi Niroopinder Madeline

India Trip 2016: Goa

Goa. Candolim. Sunny endless beaches with sand dunes that feel amazing. There’s India and there’s Goa; the Indian paradise and the go-to tourist place in India. During winter-time it never gets cold, it’s a never-ending summer time in Goa. The beaches are probably like no other beach in the world; where animals such as cows and stray-dogs can wander freely and openly without anyone bothering or judging. It’s the type of beaches where everyone is welcome and that’s the beauty with it. People can bathe in bathing suit, full clothes on or even bikinis – nothing is considered strange here. I love Goa for what it is – India’s beauty. With all its flaws and wonders.

We were in Candolim, Goa for 4 nights during the end of December 2016 and it was the best time of the year to be there. The weather is always nice and sunny with a temperature that is bearable and comfortable – 34 degrees Celsius during the day and 25 during the evening. You can wear long dresses that are airy and free and just put on a cardigan when it’s evening time – I haven’t had that type of freedom in the choice of clothing in a long time. The weather in Sweden isn’t allowing that type of clothes even during summer; one must always bring a thin jacket for evening times in Scandinavia – it always requires planning. That’s something that doesn’t work in India, nevertheless in Goa, planning can be done but it won’t really last throughout the trip. Things will change from one day to another. That’s also one of the great beauties of India, you never know what is expecting around the corner – so don’t plan too much in detail. Be spontaneous and free. Be open-minded and things will resolve and open up to new possibilities themselves.

I will be posting a clip on my Youtube channel in the coming day or two where I’ve gathered some footage and images from the whole India trip. So stay tuned for that! Meanwhile, you can enjoy a few of my favourite images in the below gallery.

Enjoy! 🙂

Peace and Love,
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India Trip 2016: Mumbai/Bombay

Bombay. Mumbai. Whatever you’d like to call it, this great urban city of India that Bollywood calls its home. So much diversity and so many nationalities in the same city, living under the same rules – freedom. There’s a sense of freedom in India which cannot be found elsewhere, you can do as you please, come as you go and just mind your own business – there’s no problem. Anything is do-able in India. If you have plenty of time and patience. Don’t rush it and things will fall into place – eventually.

I will be travelling down to Bombay by air from North India, and it’s amazing how you only get to half of the country in 2½ hours with flight. It’s the same distance as Stockholm to London, it’s incredible how large this country is. When we get to Bombay (which is what I still call the city most of the times despite the name change back to Mumbai) we’re checking into a hotel near the airport to freshen up and get some rest. We’ll be doing some shopping in the city the first evening in Bombay and then just take it easy because of all the travelling. The next day is planned for sightseeing and local shopping, and hopefully to meet a dear friend of mine.

I want to capture and take in the whole experience of being in Bombay for the first time. Travelling with someone who’s never been to India is also very special, you get to show what you’ve been accustomed to since childhood and also see it through their eyes. How do they look at the surroundings? What do they think of the mad traffic and driving on the “other side”? What are their first impressions when coming out of the airport? The smell, the people and the rush. Either you love it or you dislike it, that’s what I believe. Either you’ll love India and it’s randomness and the need of being present all the time, or you’ll be fed up in no time if you haven’t got the patience. If you remain open throughout the whole experience you will probably love it.
What would you think when you see the huge gaps between the rich and the poor? How do you react to the people begging openly in the streets? This is the whole experience and not just go to the tourist places and turn back to Europe after the vacation is finished. When you’re here, you need to see the whole 360 of what India has to offer you. From the 5 star hotel restaurants to the roadside dhaba’s, from the fancy and exclusive shopping malls to the local crowded markets, from a private taxi to a rickshaw or a 3-wheeler. Then you’re able to judge it with real open eyes, without judgement and without fear.

Peace and Love,
Kimmi Madeline

Ethnicity Tag at YouTube

Hey Everyone!

I’ve made a new video on YouTube where I answer some questions about my ethnicity. The video is inspired by the tag that is circulating around on YouTube. It’s intended for you all to get to know my background a little bit more, at least my Indian side. Let’s connect over at YouTube if you haven’t already subscribed to my channel, the link is pasted below.

Questions answered in the video:

1. Where are you from?
2. When was the last time you visited your country?
3. What part of the country are you and your family from?
4. Name one ethnic food that you enjoy the most.
5. Name one household item that best represents your culture.
6. Do you speak your language?

Peace and Love,
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Proud of my heritage

My relationship with my native country India has been up and down throughout the years. Since I’m born and raised in one of the most opposite countries to India, culture wise, that is Sweden, one can say it’s been the major reason for my very mixed cultural experience. While sitting in the flight back home, via Turkey, I’ve had my fair amount of reflection time, as I usually do while travelling places. Growing up it was a natural milestone to travel to India every other year to visit family and relatives; my parents wanted us to get a glimpse of India and our heritage from an early age. When growing up and being a teenager I found it particularly hard to motivate myself to travel there again and again. Relatives moved far away from India and soon everything I had associated with the trips would no longer be awaiting us, and perhaps it was my way of not wanting to accept change, but I briefly lost interest in India overall throughout those years.
This summer I’ve had a rewarding and thought provoking trip to India where I’ve reached a whole new level of my relationship to India, in a very positive way. Of course these kind of thoughts don’t come over night, it’s been an ongoing process mentally over the past few years, embracing my heritage and being a Swede with Indian roots. I am more than ever interested in Indian languages and regret not going from learning Punjabi to knowing Hindi at a more earlier age, so that I could be fluent while travelling all over beautiful India. I’ve come to terms with accepting the country for what it truly is; a great independant nation with all kinds of people, religions and cultures gathered in a country as big and wide as a continent. I can see the beauty in what I see out in the streets of the captal, New Delhi, or just as well travelling between cities and seeing agriculture, old houses and slums being side by  side with 5-star fancy exclusive hotel chains. Watching how people help out each other in the streets while parking your car in the most narrow street with all kinds of difficult obstacles you wouldn’t cope on your own, or just simply reaching out for each other despite being strangers. Walking side by side with the lowest ranked citizens of India’s caste system, while on the other side seeing people unbelievably wealthy. Everyone has a place in this giant naton called India, despite all injustices that exist. I just wish I could do more for the poor people, I want to save them all from this horrible poverty. By travelling to a country like India, you can’t help but to involve all your senses and emotions, even the ones you thought you have forgotten about in comfortable and safe Sweden/Scandinavia, they all become alive and floods through your system and it makes you more compassionate. You embrace the world with all its flaws and don’t just take your calm good life for granted when you get home. The important thing after all is that these emotions and thoughts don’t stop or shut down just because you travel home. I will forever be grateful to my family for introducing me to my heritage and home country so I can in turn make my future children know where they came from and also feel this sense of pride that I finally can say that I do.

Indian culture and my book influences

I’m going to share a little piece of what my book is going to cover. This is something that I’ve been thinking about for the last few years and it’s a very personal topic, and I’ve been very unsure over those years whether or not to share it with the world.
The topic is: arranged relationships (or marriages) vs. love relationships and related stories. It’s going to be a very personal book, very close to my heart and it’s going to be about cultural differences between western and a mixed Indian culture.

I don’t personally have any experience in having to be in an arranged relationship (thank God!) but I am very interested in the subject and how it’s still a problem for some young people to get out of (if they wanted to). They are usually expected to follow the family traditions and they therefore agree to go through with it to avoid bringing family shame or damage the family honour.
Why would there be family shame if they choose their own partner? Why shouldn’t we be able to love whoever we want and choose to spend the life with that person be enough to please the family? Those are some very difficult questions to answer but I’m very eager to dig deeper into the whole concept and find out more about the pros and cons of such an arrangement. Isn’t the individual happiness what should be in focus, since we’re the only ones who are going to live our own life?

Another interesting observation is how girls and boys are treated differently and the expectations and pressure are also very diverse depending on if you’re a boy or a girl. A boy might be able to date more openly before a marriage in some families, while girls should not even talk to a boy before she gets married. I know I might take the most extreme examples, but they do exist, unfortunately.

From a Western perspective I have a hard time accepting or believing that one would ever want to marry a stranger and build a family with them, but somehow it’s not hard to accept for true followers of this tradition or culture.
What is interesting to know about Indian culture is that it’s very intertwined with religion; so there is really a fine line between the two. One can be non-religious but still follow all traditions and celebrate religious holidays, just because it’s natural to them. I compare it with celebrating Christmas for example, not many people in Sweden are religious but we still celebrate Christmas here. It’s fun to receive gifts and have the whole family gathered – but it’s more for the social aspect than it’s ever going to be religious. At least here in Sweden, which isn’t a very religious country.

I guess growing up in a very nonreligious country together with having a family which is Indian and having that Indian culture with me has made me question many things while growing up. These are just a very few of my thoughts that have triggered my need to write my story, as raw as it might be, because I believe that it’s necessary to shed some light on these topics in today’s modern society where we might think that everyone has a free will. At least here – in the West.