I remember moving from Washington to Louisiana when I was 11 years old. Though we never left the U.S., transitioning from the Pacific Northwest to the Deep South was like moving to a different country. We still spoke English, but the cultural language was foreign. Gone were bike rides in the Columbia River Gorge, in were Saturdays watching LSU football.

While we eventually learned to appreciate the South for what it is, with its warm relational culture and long-standing traditions, those early years were difficult. It was hard to embrace a new culture when there were so few opportunities to share our own.

My own experience moving across the country helped me empathize with several friends in India. As a major city, Bangalore attracts Indians from across the country, including people with different languages, cultures, and traditions.

Amongst the many who move to Bangalore are two of my closest friends, Ansh and Ananya. Ansh is from Gujarat, in West India, and Ananya from Noida, which is in the North. They moved from their hometowns to Bangalore about two months before I met them and were dealing with the same homesickness I felt moving to Louisiana.

In the end, this dynamic strengthened our friendship: they wanted to share their cultures and I was eager to learn more about different Indian beliefs and traditions.

I actually owe them my favorite night in India, when Ansh invited us to celebrate Navratri—the biggest festival in Gujarat—by going Garba dancing.

Though we never left Bangalore, the festival was like moving to a different part of India. We were immersed in Gujarati culture, with their language, food, and dance on all sides.

I have never seen Ansh happier, and his joy quickly transferred to us.

We ate, laughed, and danced into the early morning, hearts happy and smiles wide.

Homesickness hurts no matter where you go but inviting others into your culture gives joy to all.

Caption: A group of guys dance Garba during Bangalore’s 2023 Navratri celebration.