From An-Other Land by Tanushree Ghosh ***Spotlight -- Guest Post: What's it like to be an Immigrant? -- Giveaway***
From An-Other Land by Tanushree Ghosh
But what is immigration today? A question of life or death - fleeing of persecution? A compulsion? Or a mere pursuance of privilege? And what is the US today? A land of opportunities? Or a quagmire impossible to comprehend, inherently racist and selfish?
From An-Other Land dives deep into immigration today for the diaspora and its many facets with characters who seek to define themselves in an intercultural setting that is less and less sure of itself. A reality check and a guide for anyone who wants to understand the modern-day US.
What’s it like to be an immigrant?Before I migrated to the US now 15 years back, I didn’t realize that there is an identity - one that cuts across ethnicity, race, religion, anything really – and that is, being an ‘immigrant’. Yet, as I have realized in going back and forth (and back again) between embracing fiercely and rejecting this identity, there is really, as I see it, two very simple and relatively sizeable points that can size up this immensely nuanced experience for me. Being an immigrant has freed me of a vast number of identifications that I was superficially assigning my being to be relying on – from nationality, to religion, to what I prefer to wear. In essence, it has freed me to be able to see things with a ‘human’ lens, instead of a ‘national’ one. And being an immigrant has also, split me forever into halves. I don’t believe that I can ever fully belong to any one place ever again. I realize this profoundly during every trip back home. And I realize this profoundly in my everyday life here in the US.
In the events for my book that I have been very fortunately been able to do in the recent months, immigration, for obvious reason, has come up again and again. And although I have been inclined to push the conversations towards diversity and acceptance of intersectionality – stressing the point again and again that being an immigrant – or being anything really (from a woman to a particular race) – is not a singular experience, at least one communication has happened always around ‘general immigrant experience’. The themes that have come out of those discussions aren’t unexpected. Expectations and efforts of fitting in. Trying harder. Both to fit in and not to fit in (aka forsaking one’s roots). But still, being an immigrant, for me, hasn’t been about such experiences or expectations for me for the most part.
Yes, I have tried to fit in. Consciously or maybe unconsciously. But no more than I have or would in any particular situation back home which would require adjustment from my true self to not be standing out. To simplify with some metaphors: even if corporate suits were not my thing, I, just by who I am, would make sure I am dressed in one if the etiquette encouraged that to ensure I fit in even if I never had stepped out of my birth city. And just like that, I have adapted clothing, language, behaviors that ensure fitting in the US society. But I don’t like super bowl and don’t consider having to like it is needed for not sticking out as a sore thumb in the circles I hang out with here in the US, or work or study in. So I have made no attempt to tune my taste in sports. Nor has anyone expected that out of me. I am using super bowl here as a metaphor just to make a general point – not to use it as an actual example of expected assimilating behavior.
Neither have I ever felt the need to think about what I want to hold on to. This possibly has a lot to do with a relatively privileged position I have immigrated from and to. I understand why this is not what define general immigrant experiences and why generalizations around that exist. But I still want steer the conversation beyond the general immigrant experience to a nuanced understanding of diversity. But to sum up for now, being an immigrant means to be accepting honestly that it has made me a better human, who will never be able to fully ‘assimilate’ into any one belonging ever again.
Meet the Author
She is a contributor (past and present) to several popular e-zines (incl. The Huffington Post US, The Logical Indian, Youth Ki Awaaz, Tribune India, Women’s Web, and Cafe Dissensus). Her literary resume includes poems and stories featured in national and international magazines (Words Pauses and Noises, UK; TUCK, Glimmer Train Honorable mention) as well as inclusion in seven anthologies such as Defiant Dreams (Oprah 2016 reading list placeholder) and The Best Asian Short Stories 2017 (published out of Singapore by Kitaab). Her first single-author book, From An-Other Land, is on immigration.
She has held different leadership roles in non-profits (ASHA and AID India) and is the founder and director of Her Rights (www.herrights.website), a 501(3) c non-profit committed to furthering the cause of gender equality. She is often an invited speaker or panelist for both corporate and non-profit endeavors.