The Homecoming Paradox

Over the last few days, a lot of people I know have been telling me that they were going ‘home’ during the winter vacation. When I was in school, vacations meant going out of the house. This got me thinking. What are the criteria for a place to be called ‘home’?

According to me, home is somewhere you want to be at the end of a tiring day. By that yardstick, home, for me, has been my parents’ house in Bangalore (‘home’, henceforth) for the first eighteen years of my life, a hostel room for the next six years, and a nondescript apartment in College Park for the last eighteen months.

Hostel life was initially intimidating, but those years turned out to be the most memorable of my life. Unknown people from various parts of the country forged bonds that have withstood the test of time, among other things. Friends became family. A couple of weeks at home was more than enough to want to get back to the hostel. At least in the hostel, meals, however insulting to the taste buds, were taken care of and provided on time. Moving abroad and living in a house came with its own set of different challenges.

The one thing that is undoubtedly better at ‘home’ than hostel is the food. As an afterthought, I have to admit that the four of us at 9348, #720 combine to conjure some delicious food. However, man to (wo)man, we do not hold a candle to the mother. Or the grandmother. The only thing I can claim to do better in the kitchen than either of them is chopping onions!

While getting ready for (yet) another trip back home, it would be more correct to say that I’m visiting my parents’ home and my ‘ex-home’ – home now, and for the next couple of years is in College Park. Just that the awkwardness associated with the word ‘ex’ would be completely absent.

DISCLAIMER – The writer was not under the influence while penning this article. A desire to beat jetlag that kept him awake through the night was the stimulus for the same!

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