As I frantically searched in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest, I was devastated. Had I lost it in the village we had just visited, a day’s canoe ride away? Had it slipped from my open bag into the muddy river waters, to gently settle on a sleeping stingray?
I was born on vacation. My parents – Armenians from Iran – didn’t want their first-born child to be saddled with their politically unfortunate nationality from the get-go, so they chose the most innocuous of jus soli granting states and planned my birth accordingly. By this logic, I’m Canadian.
My Indian family’s reaction to my monolingualism was an almost distressing medley of amusement, incredulity and borderline contempt. As I grew up, the question ‘Do you speak Kannada yet?’ began to punctuate our family visits with wearying regularity.