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A place called home

“Out of place everywhere, at home nowhere.” These are the famous words of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. He admitted to being an odd mixture of the East and the West. “I cannot be of the West. But in my own country, I have an exile’s feeling.”This feeling gnaws at me every time I shuttle between planes, finding my way across continents. I leave home to go home. On the other side of the continent, my mother awaits me and her face glows with the joy of a happy reunion. Dazed by jet lag, I look at the roads and it feels like I had never left my city. I inhale the scents around me greedily because I know that it will soon be time to say goodbye to them.

I moved abroad to study. It was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. But then my 17 sq. meter dorm room in Bonn somehow became my home over the years. A room, which bit by bit came to life ,where people walked in as strangers but left as friends. A haven where, amidst the aroma of curry I came close to Shakespeare, a place where I didn’t just adapt to the culture around me but picked up experiences that persuaded me to slightly alter the way I had lived up to that point.

The more I felt at home, the more I asked myself “Who am I and where do I belong?” Does an answer to a question like this even exist in times like these? Where our world has become a village where distances can be measured in miles, friends can simply be ‘poked’ on Facebook and Sushi can be delivered at home. I travel across continents for holidays looking at exotic cultures and food.

Slowly, I am starting to believe that I carry globalization in my check-in baggage. Immigrating to countries we fall in love with or are designated for work,we get to know new cultures and adapt new ways of life. Each one of us becomes a customized potpourri. Is there one fixed place on earth where we would truly feel at home?

Is it better to have one place we call home, or many places across borders where we feel at home? Even the cities we live in are losing their identity and becoming multicultural hubs. They have come to resemble other cities because they are all flooded with all kinds of people across the world. Be it Bangkok or Toronto, you are sure to find samosas around the corner. And it wouldn’t shock one anymore if it were a Vietnamese serving them. I am yet to come across a German Taxi driver in Cologne.

I strive to belong to groups that I am in awe of and yet at the same time am being categorized by society’s clichés. I am like a jigsaw puzzle. Picking up a piece here, another there and trying to put all the pieces together to become one person, finding relief only when I am in motion. Living between two worlds is a lot of fun but at the same time exhausting. So, I have finally decided to live between the cracks so I don’t have to choose anymore. I am ready to give up the constant, tiresome and unending search for ‘home’. Isn’t home where the heart is?

Roma Rajpal

Roma is a freelance journalist.


24.08.2012 | 13:15