But what would they cook? What would they serve their Indian customers? What they invented anew was always tinged with the past. They had just come from plantations where their memories were turned into meals that fueled them through long days of cutting and milling cane. In the years after indenture, these meals took on elements of the old world and the new. The sons and daughters of girmitiyas created a new style of cooking, one that was both Indian and not. This was the food that would speak to their ancestors, their lives, and their new homes.
Land, race, ethnicity, power, politics. The Indian Division of the Methodist Church seemed to me to reflect all the divisions that could take root in a society built on the separation of people. I had hoped that this wasn’t the case. I had hoped to find from each parishioner proof of something larger, something that could rise above the crude lines of ethnic nationalism. I wasn’t wrong.
At every point in India’s past, there have been travelers who have either instigated or recorded their sliver of history. Some were lucky enough to do both. Indeed, through four travelers it was possible to trace nearly seven hundred years of the subcontinent’s past. In a way, each traveler built upon the voyages and history that came before him. That is perhaps the nature of traveling: to explore all that is new that has been seen for generations.
For someone who had an abiding interest in the world, writing from what I knew was not an option. I needed a bit of faith; I needed to take a flying leap into the unknown world just beyond my vision.
The case opened with a question: “Is a high-caste Hindu, of full Indian blood, born at Amritsar, Punjab, India, a white person?”
But nothing is more satisfying then that moment of Existential Googling and pressing enter. Emotion, search, relief.
This, for some reason, endlessly frustrates me. Not that Gmail cannot undelete a set of emails and chats from five years prior, but that I was allowed the option to obliterate them in the first place. I am angered by the idea that technology would acquiesce to such humanness so quickly, so easily.
In my searches, I found anything but a concrete image. In its place was the fragment: illusory, transient, incomplete.