If you have lived outside of home long enough in India, and are surrounded by folks also away from home, it is but obvious that you would have sat through a conversation on whose hometown is better. The longest and the most arduous one I have had to sit through will have to be the most discussed among them all. The one with ardent supporters for each side; chewing the same cud over and over again — The “Mumbai v/s Delhi” debate.
When I usually get stuck having to listen to one of these arguments, my thoughts often drift away in an attempt to understand what is the source of such pride. After all, why is it so important to prove one's hometown is better. Of course, we all are fond of our respective hometowns. But is it ever that acute to want to have arguments over a coffee table on which city is better. Not quite, right?!
I found it odd. The deeper I delved into my thoughts towards my hometown I realized, it is not so much the geographical city as much as it is the emotion behind Home. There is a feeling to the word Home. An inexplicable emotion that is stronger than what can be articulated. As much as I love to travel and explore new places, there is always this warm fuzzy feeling when I make my way back. That feeling of going back to something to somewhere you belong.
So then, what makes home “HOME”?
Home is never the city but the sense of comfort it brings with it. It is the people and the feelings associated with all the places. Home is where the family resides. Home is where everything is the way you want it to be (at least most of it 😊). Home is everything comfortable. Home is secure and no hassles. It is a respite, a solace, a refuge, a safe house.
As Jane Austen rightly said, “There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort”
Home is a place where one is accepted wholeheartedly, with no terms and conditions. It is the one place where we leave all our pretense and be all that we are and can be. Those who have been in the corporate world would know how precious and invaluable this is. A place where you are not judged, where you are not manipulated, where you do not need to second guess yourself. A place where you can be good, bad, evil, stubborn, stupid, pathetic, pitiful and still be loved just as much.
It is the place that holds all things familiar right from the milkman to the newspaper guy to the restaurant waiter who asks you if you will have your usual. It is a reminder of all those familiar antics, very few of which you have managed to keep alive in all the places life has taken you. It is like that 90s song you loved that plays on the radio out of nowhere years later and immediately brings a smile upon your face. A smile reminiscing all the nostalgic memories associated with it.
“Where we love is home, home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
In all your travels, you never fall in love with only the place, the architecture, the monument or the geographical location. It never is just the scenery or the view. If it was, we could have the best of the experiences in HD quality Google Images portraits in a single click. No, it is more than that.
It is an experience that involves the place you are visiting along with some good company, a good frame of mind, conducive climatic conditions, good food, comfortable footwear, and 100 other variables. It is a unique convergence of each of those several variables and the manner in which they occur to you and your fellow passengers on that particular day. It is your one-of-a-kind journey and experience that makes a destination memorable.
So, the next time you argue on whether Chole Bhature is any good in any city, remind yourself, it is your experience in life that leaves you fond with memories of one place over another. It is not a generalist attribute that can expand to a whole city.
Except when it comes to my hometown, Madras’ Filter Coffee of course:P