Home – The Words
Home. A four letter word – of the happiest kind. To use the word as a theme for a photography course / writing challenge seemed to me a bit simplistic. Till I began to think of composing an appropriate photograph that would describe the word to the world – as I saw, felt it.
Suddenly the description of my home became very complex.
Is home the house I remember from my earliest memories? An apartment associated with schooling, friends, growing up? It is, today, an abandoned, derelict building, awaiting a bulldozer probably stopped from complete destruction by bureaucratic processes! It saddens me to look at it. But the years since we moved out of the apartment have lent a certain distance that has taken away the daily joy of that home and left me with mere nostalgia.
Is home the city I had grown up in, the city that moulded me and made me the person I am today – Bombay? A city my very bones recognise and relax in completely, the moment I step in? But even the name of the city has been removed from the atlas. It has become Mumbai. Somehow, that feels alien.
Is home Pondicherry, the quaint town where I began life as an independent adult? Where I discovered the travails and joys of setting up a life of my own away from the family I had grown up in? A town that now calls itself Puducherry.
Is home Madras where I discovered I could survive and enjoy myself in a completely alien culture and come away a stronger person, having learnt to appreciate textiles, foods, visitors and travelling in buses that were always at a 45-degree angle to the road because of the crowds hanging out the doors! A city that calls itself Chennai today.
Is home Vapi – the little industrial town – where I spent two of the most fun years of my life making friends who even today are my very lifeline in hard and happy times? My every day begins with touching base with these wonderful people!
Is home the country I am a citizen of, India? A country I love without even giving conscious definition to the word love? A country that is secular as per its constitution, with a rich tapestry made up of numerous Gods, foods, festivities, natural resources? A country that could rule the world and is not because we the people are too divided by caste, creed, religion, language and every other divisive factor that we can think of. We have allowed greed and short term gains to bring us to the very brink of moral and economic destruction and I do not know if we can save ourselves or our motherland. A country that I am immensely proud of, withal? A country I seem to live in on and off, depending on the vagaries of a spouse’s career and the call of kith and kin.
Is home Singapore, the city-state that is the very epitome of safety and efficiency. A city that surprised us with its lush greenery, hidden mangroves, sparkling night lights and sheer vibrancy?
Is home for me somewhere in Africa? From the very first moments of having stepped on African soil, I felt I belonged. For myriad reasons – the people, the wildlife, the natural beauty, the vast open spaces.
Is home Durban where I indulged my love of crafting, lived luxuriously in a sprawling mansion on a golf course and discovered the delights of wines, high speed driving and safariing? And avocados!
Is home Nairobi, the house where we were flooded in the middle of the night when the hot water system crashed down along with the roof? A city full of joyous people with enough of Indian culture to give me comfort food? With tribal craftsmen and markets to shop? A place with the most unusual people whom I have ever befriended? With an orphanage for elephants and a tower which we can climb to be nose to nose with giraffes!
Is home the Savannah, the Maasai Mara, where we have spent many glorious days and nights seeking lions and leopards in the last few years? Tent 3, Simba, at Porini Lion Camp has become as familiar to us with its quirky curtain and tilted wash-stand as the current four walls we call home.
We have been shifting ground like the wildebeest, who walk continuously, braving death to come to the Maasai Mara from the Serengeti, to go back, year after year, a cycle that only ends with the end of life … how would they define home?Is it the place that calls to something in our subconscious? A place that offers us those much craved for factors in our lives – comfort, security, shelter?
I come to the conclusion that brick and mortar and political boundaries cannot define my home. I have lived a nomadic life anytime this last two decades, shifted houses, cities, countries, continents on average every couple of years and misplaced and made friends, possessions and memories.
Home is, indeed, where the heart is. And the heart can always, everywhere, be at home!
I think Siddharth puts it most succinctly – ‘Home is where my Honey is’ 🙂
Thank you for sharing this thought-provoking perspective on what or where we call “home.”
Indeed, home is where the heart is, and I have left pieces of my heart with the people and places I have had the blessing to live over the years.
Yes. We all do,that, don’t we? And often with kindred spirits who we may never meet!
What a marvellous description and definition of what exactly is a home! There are a number of people who continue to live in the same house, city or town or a village from their birth and they naturally call that as their native place. But people like me and the writer happen to live in different houses, places and perhaps countries too. Since it is we who can make a house home, we should try to do that and consider the whole world a home and be inclined to consider all the people as our own. Swati dear, you have done full justice to this concept. I fully endorse your views and I am full of appreciation and admiration of your ability to make any write up as an absorbing and inspiring endeavour.
Thank-you, Amma. You are perfectly right. Its all in our hands, ultimately. Whether we live in a house or a home.
Beautifully expressed, Swati. Indeed, home is where the heart is. Each place we live or visit leaves its imprint on us and we leave a part of ourselves there. The same could be said for the people and animals we encounter in those places – life is intertwined in many ways, alternately touching and breaking our hearts, weaving an ongoing tapestry. Perhaps recognizing a shared kinship with all life is key to feeling at home wherever we are.
Thank-you Marilyn. You have put it so much more evocatively!
Very well expressed Swati! Since you have been a wanderer for the past two decades,every place you have been Ina’s been a home, where the heart is! Very apt!
Indeed, everywhere we have managed to make a home. And more importantly everywhere has retained its sense of being our home … Maybe we leave parts of ourselves behind …
Good one Swati. Hand on my heart, before I could read the last line I had the same concept of home.
Indeed we all feel like that, always. We just need to remind ourselves, once in a while …