India-born Dutch Olympic skater Anice Das has finally made the “emotional” journey to India, a trip of a lifetime which is not just about finding her biological parents but also about “connecting” with her birthplace Mumbai.
It has taken Das and her twin sister 32 years to visit India. The two sisters were just eight months old when they were adopted by a Dutch couple who raised them “like any proud parent would”.
“It is something we had to do. Our parents (back in Netherlands) wanted us to do this when we reached the right age to do it on our own. We finally decided that this would be the two of us with a dear friend from the Netherlands (also adopted from Mumbai) who knows our city well,” Das, who represented The Netherlands in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“To be honest, it (to be here) is emotionally overwhelming. I had first thought about coming to India a couple of years ago but my sister got pregnant and then I got busy with my preparation for the Winter Olympics. So, now was the time and we were ready for it.”
Das has already made headlines in India due to her roots but she is not happy that the focus is only on her biological mother.
She has been here for a week but has not been able to make much headway into the whereabouts of her parents.
“I don’t understand why I am always asked about my mother. It is about finding my biological parents. I am in this till the end. So far we have not been able to get a lot of information (from hospitals and orphanages) and I see it will take sometime to put the dots together,” she says, revealing very little about the search.
Her sister, who is happily married and has two kids now, has gone back to Netherlands, but she is here for another week and vows that “she will keep coming back until she finds where they are”.
And as long she is around, she wants to make the most of her time exploring the city.
“There are two parts of this journey. One is about looking for my parents and other is getting to know my city, the place where I was born.
“We knew very little about India before coming here. We had just heard from friends who visited India, watched some Hindi movies, ate Indian food and that is it. I will never forget the first smell of India when we landed, it was like sweet smell in the air. We really liked it.
“It is busy but there is so much colour here. The people here look more like us (she and her sister) than in Holland, which is funny but understandable. The people have been really friendly so far and not for once I have felt uncomfortable. I am running out of words to describe this place. My English is not so good,” she says with a laugh.
She is loving Indian food, Indian beer besides the mangoes and watermelons.
“You got mangoes in every corner of the city. I am loving it. With India, it is like you either love it or you don’t. I am really liking it. It is home away from home.”
Das is heading back to The Netherlands soon but needs to figure out how to keep the search going.
“I will be back until I find them. Financially, I have to figure things out,” she adds.
After reading about her special life story, a leading Indian film production has approached her for a potential biopic.
If things work out, the search for her parents might get a lot easier.