A vast majority of people in the world lead a life of mediocrity: a run of the mill existence marked by absence of ambition or aspirations. They are weighed down by oppressive traditions and conventions, self created illusions and false notions and beliefs.
Most of us resign to our circumstances, some just after an initial effort, others after waging a short or a long battle to improve one’s existence. Many of us, on the other hand, simply refuse to take cognizance of our pitiable existence and even if they do so they carry on with their mundane existence without any effort to ameliorate their situation.
There are always a few who strive to improve their sort and manage to break away from their fetters and cross through the firewall of various constraints on their way and are thus able to give a free reign to their abilities, creativity and talents. In this category fall most expatriates.
More often than not, an expatriate is driven by the desire to liberate himself from all the factors that confine him in his native land and to find an opportunity in a new environment: in the land of his adoption in order to ameliorate his life. I use the word ‘land’ here instead of country, as such migration may not necessarily be to a foreign country but even to a different region in one’s own country: the underlying dynamics of human aspirations and desires remain a constant in both the situations. It is this impulse which drives someone, for example, from a far flung deprived part of Bihar to Delhi or Mumbai; someone from Bangladesh to India; or someone born and brought up in Delhi or Mumbai to New York or San Fransisco.
The above phenomenon explains why such a large number of expatriates prove to be enormously successful in the land of their adoption. Of course there are some who merely end up exchanging one mediocre existence for another. There are also a few, who after a failed attempt to strike roots in the new environment are forced to return to their native land. However even those who fall in the latter category go through a learning curve that shapes their outlook and transforms their personality, more often than not for the better.
‘The Fine Print and other Yarns’, my first collection of stories tells the tale of some such expatriate Indians in Paris of 1980s and mid 1990s who are in the process of getting to terms with a new environment in which they are catapulted. The same theme is explored on a much bigger canvas in my first novel ‘The Parisian Interlude’ which I hope to publish soon.