“This is the longest I’ve been away from my mother!” is what I tell people who ask me what I miss about home.
But what I forget is that this is just the longest I’ve ever been away from Hawaii. I didn’t go away to college and whenever I take trips to see my aunt and cousins in Washington state, it’s never been for more than two weeks.
Delhi amazes me with its size — it’s somehow massive yet also so tiny compared to the rest of the country. If you stand in Delhi, you’re swallowed up by it; if you look at a map, it’s swallowed up by Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, which aren’t even very large states to begin with. I can spend four months in Delhi and not see everything. You can spend a month on Oahu and see pretty much everything. I don’t consider myself an “island girl” in the “iSlAnD GuRRl 808” sense, but that I cannot be away from it for too long. I miss my drives to work and school and I miss how close everything is. Getting from my host home in East Delhi to my university in Old Delhi takes about 45 minutes by metro; it takes me about 45 minutes from my work place in town to home on a day with normal traffic. Pidgin has never sounded good to me. Born and raised in Hawaii, it’s something I heard a lot. Most of my family utilizes Pidgin English to some degree; despite that, it’s still like nails on a chalkboard to me…except in Delhi.
What spurred this odd longing for pau hana traffic and Pidgin English were videos on Facebook made to poke fun at the moke culture. Pidgin has never sounded so good to me! I’m sure growing up in any of the states gives you a special culture and humor, but I truly feel that Hawaii is a bit different. The types of communities that came over from all across Asia and the ways in which they intermixed and created new cultures is something very special, and something I always take for granted until I’m away from home for a while. Even something as silly as not knowing that passion fruit and lilikoi were the same thing until I was in my 20s makes Hawaii feel more special to me. Sure, I talk stink about the rail, the building of luxury condominiums, and $7 boxes of cereal, but sometimes I do think those things are worth what else Hawaii has to offer. I don’t like the beach and I hate that Hawaii only has two seasons — summer and pseudo-winter — but I love its special foods like lau lau, pipikaula, and poke and that everyone is your aunty or uncle (this is true in India too, which makes me feel a little closer to home).
Aside from cuddling up in bed with my fiance and dogs when I go home, I want to eat Oahu’s best summer rolls at my favorite pho place (plug: Pho My Lien near Pearlridge) and go to Kalihi for one reason or another (the neighborhood in which I work). I’m enjoying my time in Delhi, but peeking out the airplane window and seeing Oahu and knowing I’m almost home feels amazing as well.