A girl was born and brought up in a village, in a small state in the southern corner of India. She has never stepped out of her state. She reads the book about another girl who is born in one country, spent her childhood, teenage and youth in several countries. This is me reading Always A Foreigner by Ashwini. I picked the book for the fancy of living in different countries. But, was it so?
Always a Foreigner
Born to a diplomats father, Ashwini has lived in India, Burma, the US, South Korea, and the list goes on. She is a reservoir of knowledge for the fact that she has an anthropologically enriching upbringing.
The book doesn’t merely touch the snippets of her life but gives a glimpse of the political scenario in the country that she lived in and the repercussions in India.
Indian Foreign Service is often connected with the perks of living in developed countries, opportunities to travel around the world, and peripheral materialistic gains. Little has been thought and spoken about the diplomats assigned to third-world countries.
The life of the seasoned officer in Burma is a shocking revelation in ‘Always a Foreigner’. While it makes us proud of how privileged we are to live in India, it equally pains us to know that such highly qualified officers have to go through pains of this extent and are never acknowledged. This somehow made me reflect on how ill-informed we are about the sacrifices of our civil servants.
I have heard of experiences with racism in the US, Australia, etc but never about Switzerland. I would have snubbed it as an image without research had this been a fictional work. A child who is being uprooted over and over again would naturally develop identity issues but Ashwini on the other hand is enriched by the cosmopolitan life to which she has been exposed.
Knowing our history
Ashwini’s narration is impeccable. She is highly talented and enriched with knowledge gained from her life across the world and hence ‘Always a Foreigner’ represents her life in different countries. Overall the book is a lucidly written reservoir of knowledge delivered with finesse.