“Where are you from?”
I’ve gotten used to being asked this question. What I am still getting used to, however, is answering it — because I don’t know how to answer it.
That’s all they want to know about after all, right?
I complete three months of being away from the place I call ‘home’ i.e. it’s been three months of living out of two backpacks and a suitcase.
In addition to that it's also been three months of being on the move through places that may not necessarily be most people’s preference.
Through the angst and apprehensions there have been questions and more questions.
And through experiences and observations there have been insights and more insights.
But that hasn't answered where’s home for me?
What do you say when home isn’t just one place. Heck, home isn’t just a place to begin with.
I watch them study my face as it probably contorts while I’m having this internal dialogue with myself. It’s an easy question supposedly.
But it isn’t. For some of us at least. Whether we’ve continued to inhabit the town of our birth or have since moved for work or pleasure, ‘home’ is more than just a place we live in.
We find a little bit of ourselves in the people we meet
That conversation had with that stranger on the train journey
or the time spent huddled around the bonfire under a not so clear night sky with people just met earlier that day
or when eyes were locked with someone simply both were reading the same paperback almost acknowledging in an unspoken manner that the Kindle just does not cut it for you
That song that makes your two left feet tap is in sync with the way someone else drums their fingers on the table…
“I’m not the only one” is one of the best feelings in the world (AKA the Me-Too-Syndrome). And there’s no better place at finding members of the tribe we belong to except on the road.
We see glimpses of the people we’ve known in the people we meet
That never say die attitude to go source some ice-cream in the dead of the night
…being hungry to the point of eating everything within eyesight
That deafening shriek at the sight of a lizard
The stride when someone is excited about getting to the newest pub in town
The intonation in their voice when they’re slightly irritated
You realise that idiosyncrasies aren’t all that idiosyncratic after all!
Not only does your mother’s doppelgänger exists but she is standing right in front of you – and depending on how you relate with your mother, you might rejoice or recoil at the idea of bumping into this person in a distant town.
We experience the familiar in the unfamiliar – the scents, the sights, the sounds and sometimes just the vibe itself of both people and places
Whether walking or hopping off from the modes of transport and eating off the streets or the restaurants lined on it…
Be it the colours of the structures or of its people’s attire or of the flowers that come into bloom…
Sometimes it’s simply how the sun blazes or the rains lash vehemently
There’s always that something that brings you face to face with the familiar from back where you’ve been.
Home, therefore, is a notion some of us struggle to wrap our minds around. And a conventional answer is not what we have for you who want to know where we are from.
And that doesn’t mean we don’t miss home. In fact, all of the above makes missing us miss ‘home’ even more.
It makes us long for the familiar in its entirety – not the fragments.
And as scary as it sounds it makes we long for the mundane – because staying constantly alert is an energy drain.
The middle ground (for itchy feet has no cure) is the support and encouragement that we keep receiving from known as well as unknown quarters while we are on the move. This is what keeps us going.
This is what has kept me going at least…