Every year, I go to India in December- it is almost like a yearly ritual, like a pilgrimage I must complete. I enter the Bombay airport (which I still call Sahar International; I can never get around to calling it Chhatrapati Shivaji International Terminus.. :P) and always find myself smiling all through Immigration, Baggage Claim and Customs, because I see the inherent Indianness of all the people come to the fore- the usual cutting of lines to be the first in the queue or fighting for every square inch of space around the baggage carousel- it is not irritating or strange, it is just the way it is supposed to be. As I exit the airport, I scan the crowd for a pair of hands waving frantically to attract my attention- my dad who painstakingly tracks my flight all through the seventeen hour journey, and arrives at the airport half an hour before the plane is supposed to land- even though he knows that the formalities do end up taking more than an hour. We hug, he takes the trolley from my hand and makes ten calls to the rented car driver announcing my arrival and asking him to pick us up. It has been the exact same routine now, four years in a row. It would actually be strange if this were to not happen some year- because this, the very essence of this moment, is what I call home.
Somehow airports have a way of letting you know instantly whether you are welcome or not.. Knowing that you are returning to a place where there is someone waiting for you; knowing that your arrival brings a smile to someone’s face – that is what makes a place, home
Moving away from Rochester was one of the most-needed and necessary decisions of my life. But regardless of everything, this was a place which taught me all there was to learn about myself and about people – it showed me the best and worst of situations and it also tolerated me through my own best and worst. Knowing that a place has seen you in your nicest, meanest, friendliest, angriest, happiest, saddest, proudest, weakest moments and still accepts you the way you are – still helps you discover the cafe with the best coffee, or the cutest bookstore, or yummiest pastries for those midnight cravings – that is what makes a place, home.
I think we are all on a quest to find our own home. To find the place or those people that make you feel as if you belong, as if you are wanted. But in the face of the unknown and uncertain, how do we know we have reached our destination? Is it truly a matter of chemistry – sometimes the missing pieces of the jigsaw just fit – and you keep going until you have completed the puzzle? Or is it a matter of trained acceptance – learning to make a place your home; learning to nest and see the beauty in imperfection?
How do you know you are home? When the wandering mind beckons and urges you to move on, how do you know that it is time to stop?