It came to me while I spent a recent night in an out-of-town guest house built by -- but not necessarily exclusively for -- and named for an association of people of a particular community. Clean place, gentle caretaker couple with a handsome friendly dog. I was there because of familial ties; before those ties, I would not even have known of this place. Though judging from entries in the guest book, that wouldn't have mattered -- the visitors immediately before us were clearly not from this particular community. Indeed, as I said, this place doesn't restrict itself to serving that community.
But it came to me nevertheless -- to wonder, what's my community? When Indians form themselves into all manner of community-based associations, which one might I belong to? Which might I join?
Would it be one centred around my supposed mother-tongue? But my friends who speak that tongue fluently laugh when I do, for I nicely mangle it. I know I do, and I laugh too. Besides, once the language thing is over, what do we have to draw us together and keep us there?
Would it then be one centred around the religion implied by my last name? But here's the truth: despite that name, I have no religion. And the times I find myself in gatherings of people of that religion, of any religion, there's not a whole lot we share, leave it there.
What about one to do with where I live? Well, there was the time that a young lady on our first date said, and I quote, "[Your city] guys are wow!" It made me feel good. Only, later I found myself wondering: Do I want to be "wow!" because of my city? Or because of me?
When I was younger ... ahh, the cliche. But when I was indeed younger, I had no idea, simply none, about particular communities. I just had friends. To the question "what are you?", I could offer no answer that satisfied, because what do you say when your parents are from different states but are still Indian, from different faiths but are still Indian, speak different languages but are still Indian?
You say, and it doesn't satisfy: I am Indian. Show me, please, the guest house built by an association of people of that particular community.