I am not from India. I am of India.

Have you ever experienced this moment of hesitation when somebody asks you where you are from? Yes, you could say "I am from xyz", referring to the place you were born in or to the country you hold a passport of. Yet, as you say it, it feels like you are leaving out tremendous amounts of information about yourself, about what made you who you are now? 

"Where are you a local?"

In a, for me, ground shaking TED talk, Taiye Selasi speaks about how our Rituals - Relationships - Restrictions define our identity more than our passports. She points out that the question "Where are you a local?" can tell us so much more about who and how similar we are than the question "Where are you from?".

"I am German." - really?

I so deeply resonate with this. Over the last few months, identity has been a huge topic for me. Yes, in many ways I qualify as German. I hold a German passport. I hold privileges connected to my German citizenship. Many members of my family and many close friends live there. Most of my education happened there, and I spent significant amounts of my time growing up there. It probably is safe for me to say that "I am German".

Yet, it is not that easy. There are many parts of Germany I have never visited, I feel no connection to, I have no experience of. When somebody refers to me as German, I catch myself asking myself silently "Hm, really?". In some strange way, Ulm, Potsdam and Bremen are more foreign to me than parts of New Delhi, San José or Bangkok. In the latter, I feel more at home because I have lived in those cities for some amount of time, I have breathed their air. And I have returned to them at least once and always found that a part of me was still there.

I am not from India. I am of India.

Over the last decade, I have been lucky enough to travel and live in different parts of the world, staying anything from a few days to a few years. Since 2011, I have spent most of my time in different parts of India. I made important work experience there, I studied and learned, I volunteered and lived in a yoga community, I travelled, went places and went nowhere. I have dear friends there, some of whom are like family, and I have created important relationships that have changed the course of my life.

Of course, I am not from India. I am of India. India is a dominant part of my life experience. It shapes me. It creates me. What I am now is to a large extent because of what I learn about myself when I am in what is called India. The same holds true for Germany, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, the US, or any other place. I am not from any of them. I am of them.

"My experience is where I'm from."

Taiye Selasi's talk and the concepts she shares give me a spaciousness to rethink the way I define my and others' identity in terms of locality and nationality. I am not done thinking and writing about this. In a way, I feel something very new has just begun. For today, I take the reminder with me to ask more people more often "Where are you a local?". And with excitement I look forward to exploring how much more we have in common than we think separates us.

Have you by now watched Taiye Selasi's talk? Where are YOU a local? 

I look forward to reading your comments.