Home is not the concrete construct
where your mother resides
and your father returns to
It is not the land
your passport claims you belong to
Home is a state of mind
the environment you miss the most
when you live in a foreign land
Home may not be where you were born
but it may be the land
where your heart was first torn
where you first set foot in a classroom
and found your first crush
The place where you know the slang
a little too well
for your parents’ liking
Where you can get lost
and still be at ease
You know the streets
like the back of your hand
It is a place you complained of
when you knew no better
but when you left
you wished you left a letter
to show your gratitude
all the things you took for granted
that you couldn’t find
in the place your parents call home
in another place that you now call home
The smells, the tastes
the sounds and the sights
The faces that passed
as the years went by
you wish you could keep
in a little box in your heart
carry it around and open it
when you can take no more
You need to feel at home once more.
I needed a prompt to let the floodgates out this time. I have a scar on my arm and I don’t know where it came from. I have discovered divinely immersive music after a long time. Tigran Hamasyan, Shai Maestro, Takuya Kuroda, Thelonius Monk and a little more Jazz make up my evening playlists. I have a very strong feeling that I need to be doing something else, i.e. not research, with my life. But I don’t know what and I’m unsure as to whether I even want to find out. Maybe I’m comfortable with the idea of a comfortable position as a scholar or researcher. But as was said in Dead Poets’ Society, isn’t poetry, romance, beauty and love what we live for? Do I need a noble pursuit to justify my existence or is that an overly exaggerated, capitalistic view? Do I owe it to my parents to keep pushing on in this field? I think I know the answer to the last question.
I need to know what constitutes satisfaction. Happiness, I am aware of. But true satisfaction, I have yet to experience. The mental kind, not the physical. Is it the practicalities of life clashing with the picture I’ve painted in my head of what life should be like? Is it just a childish pursuit of idealism that has left me in want of a state that I may never attain? Am I asking too many questions, throwing a fishing line into a polluted river and expecting the finest catch? Can I be trusted with finding my way in this world?
And if I assume this is all an illusion, why does that have to make it less real? Can curiosity get any curioser (“and curioser!” Cried Alice)? Am I painting the person in the mirror with impermanent watercolors? Am I too enraptured by fleeting encounters that were never meant to be? Or is this all just an excuse for me to hole up in my hideout and bury my head in the sand when reality comes knocking at my door?
I have learned more about life in these past two months than I ever have shuttling between countries and states. I want to thank the places and the people for everything they’ve done and taught me.
First of all, to the institute and all my fellow science-y folk, my friends in hostel and at NIO: you guys have shown me that age is never a barrier to friendship and that no matter how helpless you feel, help is right around the corner if you would just ask for it. I’ve made some bonds that I hope are lifelong. The amount of belief that my guide showed in me and his desire to make me realize my full potential was really overwhelming. Some of his words have been etched in my mind (side note: Oceanography was unchartered territory for me but now I have a real interest in it and I think my future lies in Geophysics. I’m grateful for having realized this).
Thank you stranger for stopping, showing concern and offering to help us out when we were lost on the way back from Palolem. That was when I had my first glimpse of Goan hospitality.
Thank you strangers for always pointing us in the right direction (trust me, this is hard to find in a lot of places).
Thank you to the myriad of biological species (Elizabeth the Lizard a.k.a. Liz the Liz, James Roach II and his little brother and especially the rat I have christened pyFerret in remembrance of the multiple plots I’ve made) in my hostel room for making me grateful for my hostel in Surat. (I’m not kidding, I will never complain about MTB again.)
Thank you to my roommate, Sonali, for all the times you cooked for your idiot of a roommate and for showing me that genuinely nice people exist.
Thank you to the Surtis who helped us out when the bike ran out of petrol in the middle of the pouring rain. It boosted my faith in Gujjus.
Thank you stranger for helping us out when the scooter ran out of petrol. Thank you stranger #2 for driving it back the next morning.
Thank you egg paratha guy for showing me that sincerely dedicated cooks can exist outside of Michelin starred restaurants. *If any of you ever visit Dona Paula, do stop at the egg paratha guy’s stall at the circle. It’ll be the best paratha you’ve had in your life; and sabji and chutney, all for the glorious price of 30Rs.
Thank you to the scooter rental guy for showing us that no matter how bad a condition the scooter is in, it’s not dead till it’s dead.
Thank you to the constructors of the Kochi-Panvel highway, those were some of the most beautiful roads I’ve taken, shrouded by the cool air of forests, meandering through the hills with gorgeous views on either side.
Thank you to the security guy who waved me in with a grin whenever I was late and would sheepishly ask him if I have to sign the register.
Thank you Panjim for showing me how to fall in love with cities again. Thank you Fontainhas and Altinho for relieving me of the eyesore architecture that I’ve become so accustomed to. Thank you Taleigao and St. Inez and Miramar for letting us disturb your peace in the wee hours of the night as we circled through you with the wind in our hair and not a care in the world.
Thank you Panda. You know why.
Thank you Sumit and your family for the wonderful lunch and the gift and for letting me drag you all to the Houses of Goa. I’m glad you thought it was worth it and your mother is seriously one of the nicest ladies I know.
Thank you Bambolim, Miramar, Colva, Calangute, Anjuna, Mapusa, Palolem and Baga beaches for letting me sift your sand between my toes. Thank you Baga for that wonderful night after Cape Town; Anjuna for that romantic rockside; Calangute for that friendship; Palolem for its beauty; Bambolim for the thoughts you gave me.
Thank you to Palms and Sands for the best Pulao and Chicken Xacuti I’ve had.
Thank you to the bumps on the road for helping me lose my phone. I realized its true worth, and it wasn’t much because no piece of technology could compare to all the enlightenment I received.
Most importantly, thank you Candolim; a place where I had the best memories of my life. Thank you Svetlana; you know that if it happens, we’ll be sure to invite you. 😉 Thank you to St. Alex Church for showing me that there are churches in India that are devoid of the chauvinism and conservativeness of churches in Kerala. Thank you LD, Bob of Bob’s Inn and The Stone House.
Thank you Subodh Kerkar for showing me that modern art can be beautiful. Thank you to you and your daughter for showing interest in our ideas and for your offer of help. Thank you for setting up the Museum of Goa and for your idea of placing the little blue girl statues along the road that guided two wanderers to art’s doorstep.
Thank you Dona Paula Jetty for all those windy nights and bonds forged.
Thank you to all the old Goan ladies in their uniform-like tailored shirts and skirts for showing me a whole different level of laid-back and easy-going. I like you and hence, I think I’d like to live here.
I’m sad to say I’m on my way I won’t be back for many a day