Ever since I moved out of Goa, “Home” has been something that’s in between: the apartment in Pune that I shared with strangers (who turned into friends and later family) and home in Goa where my family lives, my stuff is stored, documents locked and so all my memories of growing up. My idea of “Home” was torn between 2 different cities: a city where I lived most of the time and the city where I lived once a month for a weekend or on public holidays/festivals.
Years later, I moved to Germany. Living in a shared apartment in a foreign land full of white people, for long none of whom I could bring myself to call friends, let alone family, kept the definition of home dangling again. Now with my family located geographically distant, sometimes home felt to be in the smartphone.
With the pandemic confining us all into our boxes made of concrete walls, I struggled to define family & home. It took me a long time to come to an agreement that this place is where I’m now, where I live. I need to make it my home and not just a shared apartment.
I made all the physical changes that I could: changed curtains, got many plants, got a desk & a chair, put up photos in frames, put up things on the wall, etc etc. I did everything which now makes my idea of “move out with just one trolley bag” impossible. The physical changes were easy as compared to the emotional ones. The four walls of my room, the kitchen, the bathroom, calling it my own and owning them took a while. As a kid, I grew up with the idea of not owning stuff as my own but as something borrowed. Most of the things needed either permission or rebellion. In the absence of the need for both, my brain ceased to function. I had to learn this idea of embracing freedom, make my own choices and take the decisions as I felt right with no guilt & fear.
I’m still in the process of painting my mind and my apartment with the colours of home, finding and befriending beautiful souls in this foreign land. I have gotten better with familiarising myself with the place around me, the dynamics of the systems & the culture here, the streets, the shops and the road to river Rhine 🙂
2 weeks back I took a short vacation to Portugal: visited the chilled and laid back Porto, buzzing Lisbon, sun soaked Lagos and old town Faro. I jumped from hostel to hostel as I moved across these cities. Figuring out the routes on google maps, searching for supermarkets, restaurants, train stations, the bus tickets, places to visit and the route back to the hostel. Being an ambivert (60%introvert 40% extrovert) it takes me a while to open up and connect with people. I did vibe with some people and had meaningful conversations. Having a musical night with the girl from California and the guy from Berlin, with the girl from Austria with whom I ended up spending the whole day in Sintra, with the Spanish girl with whom I had so much talk and laugh about our cultures & life living abroad, with the guy from Netherlands whom I missed to say goodbye in Porto but ended up saying “Hello again” in Lisbon, with the guy from UK whom I didn’t notice in Lagos hostel but ended up talking non stop in hostel in Faro and so on. The connections though momentary were new experiences for me and much cherishable.
With the overwhelming first few days of vacation, I chose to relax and unwind towards the end. Not sure if it was the impact of this book I had been reading during the vacation: The Power of Now
With time, the spaghetti in my mind untangled itself. I had this realisation that Home isn’t in Goa or Pune or Germany but it is someplace inside me. It is the sacred, comfortable space where I accept & shelter myself with love. It is the space in me that I share with everyone who joins me in my journey, even if it is for a short moment. No matter where I’m geographically located, this space doesn’t change its google co-ordinates. After a day of mindful or mindless wandering, I can always come back to this space to find solace and comfort. With this inside of me, I’m home, anytime & anywhere.