Voting for 1st Time, Across Cultures and Borders

On 8 March 2020 (4 months shy of turning 18 years old but much before the general election), I voted in the Democrats Abroad Global Presidential Primary. I was all the way across the world from the White House in Mumbai, India. There was something beautifully joyful about 20 Americans living abroad, casting their vote in the lobby of a hotel in the bustling city of Mumbai. 

For some of these people, they just happened to be away from their homelands at this crucial time and therefore were lucky enough to be able to vote from another place.  But, things were a bit different for me, as I was voting for a presidential candidate to govern the people of a land in which I have never lived. The only home I’ve ever known is in the midst of South Bombay; approximately an 18-hour plane ride away from the hospital in Harris County, Texas where I was born.

It’s strange being part of something much bigger than yourself, and voting was an experience like no other. Yet, I felt slightly misplaced because, although I’m fairly informed about American politics and the Democratic Party (and, I will probably pursue high education in the United States), I hadn't gotten into the heated debates that some of the other American voters were having, simply because I didn't share their fervor.  Yet a fire ignites in me when I debate, question, and rant about Indian politics. This makes sense since this is where I now live. But, legally I'm a a citizen of another nation.  I guess that’s something I don’t quite understand yet.

I wrote the following piece on my way back home after voting:

It’s hard to decipher,

The lines between the borders within me;

The territories

and parts

belonging to two different nations,


I’ll never be American enough-

I didn’t grow up on that soil

my ancestors don’t lie in it

my heart doesn’t beat to the rhythm of its anthem at school assemblies

my home isn’t nestled within it

my passport, however, came from it-

Which is why I’ll never be Indian enough either

I can’t vote here

I’m an “overseas citizen”

although I’m unsure as to what lies across the sea

but I know the language of this country

its people,

its anthem, stuck in my throat,


I wasn’t born here

and who knows where I’ll be buried

because my religion

belongs to neither of these lands

in fact it’s rioted against

across both of them

yet I voted for a presidential candidate

for the United States or America

in India

which baffles me to no extent

the contradictions woven into my very identity

the questions embedded into my birth certificate

and I don’t know which land to seek those answers in

because one is home but the other gives me social security

one is where my parents pay taxes and the other where I will

I can’t vote in one and I request an absentee ballot in the other

and I can’t even begin to comprehend how to navigate this imposition of political borders.