Where is home? A question that never ceases to surprise or pique my curiosity, whenever I think about it.
For the vast majority of people who have been brought up and gone to school and married and had children and worked in the same places forever, this question would seem ridiculous.
But for people like me who have a wee bit of the urban nomad in them, this is a very relevant question.
I was born in Nagaland, one of the many states of northeast India, in a tiny town where my father worked.
Earlier not many people knew about this place. Today, however, with the reach of the media to all ends of the earth, people do know where the land of the headhunters of the warrior race of the Northeast Konyak tribe is. It’s a beautiful, pristine hilly town called Mon that is dotted with mountains and lush greenery with deep winding vales overlooking which, I first started writing my poetry journals as I looked out of the window of the beautiful bungalow where we lived as the incandescent fog bobbed up and down over the hills.
Is that home for me? A lot of it, for a lot of time. Yes.
Then later, my home shifted to where I went to boarding school in now strife-torn Shillong, the land of the Khasis in Meghalaya. This was a different state and where I spent 12 years of my life, being taught discipline and academics. It’s a given that I don’t really know the place much despite having spent so much time there. Because when you’re in boarding school, you spend that time inside the vicinity of the high walls of the establishment without being allowed much of a glimpse of the real place where you’ve lived so long.
But God knows, I love that place. Waking up to crispy cool, beautiful mornings has an unexplained beauty about it. Of course, it makes a great difference that our lives were so free of responsibility then. All we did was study and the rest of the time get excited about our summer and winter breaks with family, filled with travel, food, reading comics, meeting friends and just that. An idyllic life…sigh..yes.
So where was home for me really?
On vacations, we would travel to Assam, yet another state in the same region, where both my parents had homes. So it was this travelling between these three states that was home for me. It’s difficult to identify where I felt more at home in any of these three places since I spent equal amounts of time in all these places.
The only constant was travelling and something from which my happiest memories spring.
As life would have it, my quest for that one place to call home didn’t end. Post completing my higher studies, I got my first break, my first job in the capital city of New Delhi where I worked as a lifestyle journalist for a national newspaper. That was home for many years.
But once the kids came and I embarked on a freelancing career, once again we set up a home in yet another neighbouring state, since we wanted so many things for the children. Open spaces mostly where they could run and play, which was not possible in a big bustling city. So once again, my home changed.
This place, where I currently reside, has now been kind of a home for the last ten years or so.
But it’s still not really home. In my mind, I’m still travelling, trying to lay down roots somewhere. But as they say…you are only what you experience in life. So it has been with me.
Settling is never an easy option for people like me, though I’m trying.
Today, this month, I’m back in the city where I studied for five years in college. This clearly isn’t home too. It’s just one of the many homes in a life defined by travelling and the inability to settle down..in a not so bad way I like to think!
The one good thing about being an urban nomad, as I am? Well, the ability to live anywhere, be friends with anybody, to scour for a life amid nothing and yes, also just pack up and move and go to yet another place without too much of sentimentalism.
I quite like that and often look forward to where a new phase of life will take me.
But, for now, home is just where the family is..my children, the husband, the parents, the siblings. It’s a happy place. 🙂
But I still cannot find an easy answer when someone asks me: where’s home?