Soham was born in Mumbai, Maharashtra in India. He moved to Ireland with his mother in 2003. He was four and a half years old. Soham’s move to Ireland was instigated by his own father, who moved first because “the quality of life was terrible and it wasn’t mirroring . . . the amount of work he put in.”
“When my dad lived in India, he used to work ridiculous shifts. He used to work six days a week. His shifts started at three in the morning and ended usually at nine in the night or seven in the evening. His bus journeys used to be 3 hours long. One way.”
So when the opportunity arose to move out of India, his father took it. “He got a job offer in Galway. He decided to move to that company in Galway because in the long term it would mean he’d have better opportunities for everyone else and himself. And he’d have a better quality of life.”
“It was kind of because of me as well because he thought I’d get a much better life in Ireland. It’s much harder in India. If you’re looking for a popular course like medicine, you’re looking at least 200,000 students fighting for one seat, not even the entire college course. Just one seat.” This is a substantially large number compared to 43,569 new entrants going to college all over Ireland, according to HEA figures for 2016/2017.
The process of bringing him and his mother took two years. “He went back for a visit and he’d come to get us then, but our visas didn’t really work out . . . My dad just had to go back empty handed. Then he came back the next year, I think 2003, and he took us with him,” he said.
“I didn’t even know we were going to get on the flight to be honest. I found out we were going to get on the flight when we were on the flight...I thought we were going to the shops...It was a new place and I’ve never been there and it sounded very different.”
During those two years, Soham was “vaguely aware of [his father] being gone away. It didn’t really make a difference in those two years. I was too small and I didn’t really know anything. But I guess when he came to take us, it made a difference because I was with them all the time and I kind of knew what was going on. But when he was away, I was way too small to know what was going on.”
Adjusting to a new country, for him, was “awkward” and “difficult”. “When I actually moved I didn’t know what I was getting into. I had to get used to a new place. It was colder, I was sick at the start of it because of the cold. I had to learn to speak English better.” As a child, he had no problem assimilating and didn’t experience any bullying. Most of his friends were Irish and he could speak English “decently”. “It wasn’t too bad making friends,” he says.
Galway was “nice”, but “there wasn’t much to do...There weren’t many people around, there were very few things to do. Amusement parks or any of that stuff, but there were a lot of national parks so it was a beautiful place.”
Their move to Loughrea in Galway was made easier by the other Indians living there. “They were the first ones,” with his father having “kind of laid the foundations” of an Indian community there. He estimates that the number has grown to “2,000 to 3,000 Indian people over the last 14 to 15 years.” His family is well-connected to Indians living there, having met organically; “We said ‘hi’ to each other at a place, got their contact numbers. We do meetings once a year to meet up. It’s like a gathering.”
Soham keeps in touch with his roots through a mix of food, language and consumption of Indian pop culture. But his parents don’t see the need to try and preserve the culture. “[They] still spoke Hindi in the house. It was a habit.” Soham, on the other hand would “speak more English than Hindi because now [he’s] outside most of the time [he’s] speaking English most of the time.” Even his parents “speak a lot of English now too.” He still struggles to find words now and again. “[He] didn’t back then when [they] would watch a lot of Hindi movies and [they] weren’t into Hollywood.” They still cook Indian food “everyday”, but “it’s kind of mix.”
He feels like he’s “fifty-fifty” on being Irish and Indian. He feels like he’s “still somewhat connected to the culture.” He describes himself at “fairly even ground between both.” He doesn’t agree with certain viewpoints both in the Irish culture and Indian culture.
He doesn’t see himself going back to live in India. “I think I’m settled [in Ireland] now. I think the weather or the surroundings wouldn’t feel right to me.”
“I don’t mind where I come from or where I am. I just like where I am at the moment and I know where I would like to be in the future.”
“I don’t mind where I come from or where I am. I just like where I am at the moment and I know where I would like to be in the future. Because it doesn’t really matter that I came from there and I’m staying here now. It doesn’t really make a difference that I’m from India, but I’m living here right now. That’s all the difference it makes.”
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