For the first time ever, I’ve grown to like a place. I like it so much, it’s almost ‘home’, a term that I’ve never wanted to use for any place before, ever. Ironically, I’ve only spent one year here – the least amount of time in any place I’ve lived.
Maybe it’s because it’s such a perfect mix of the best things of every other place. The weather is like Coimbatore, but better (almost Ooty-like). I like in a super quirky part of town that feels just like Berkeley. There are so many lakes, they are a great beach-substitute, so I don’t miss Madras. There’s always something or the other happening, especially in the summer, and that reminds me of Bombay. There is also nothing that reminds me of Gurgaon, which is more a positive than anything else.
Maybe it’s all of the above, or maybe it’s some of it. I don’t know why, but I really like Seattle. I didn’t even realize it, and I fell for it. It’s super ironic that I realize this today, when I’ve just finished selling most of my stuff and I’m getting ready to relocate in 9 days.
I’ve lived in many places before, but nothing ever got under my skin like this. Seattle, I will miss you.
I was talking to someone at work (in India) and he was giving me an example which involved Cafe Coffee Day. Before I could say anything, he says, “Oh, so just so you know, CCD, Cafe Coffee Day is like Starbucks in India. They have cafes across the country and people can go there for coffee, snacks etc.” I would’ve interrupted if I could but by that point I was just shocked.
I’ve been in the US for all of 3 years. I spent my entire teens and early 20s in India. I was once the person who drove my friends so we could go to the grand opening of CCD in Coimbatore (and caused a giant traffic jam in the middle of RS Puram, but that’s a whole other story). And yet, I have now been abroad long enough that people naturally assume I won’t even know what that is.
I feel like a true NRI now.
A long time ago, a friend wrote about how she didn’t feel the need to buy a house because she already had found her home. Today, I was having a conversation with someone who was speaking about how the fact that I’ve moved a lot means I don’t feel like any place is ‘home’. It’s true, Doha was home, but not really because I somehow always knew a day would come when we would have to ‘go back home to India’. To me, Coimbatore wasn’t really home because the entire time that I was there I was trying to get out of there. I had two very close friends, but other than that I barely felt like I fit in because everything just felt so different. Chennai is just where my parents live, because they moved there after I moved out. Mumbai was just a place I lived in while I was at b-school, and while I loved it, it wasn’t my home. Gurgaon again was just a necessity because that’s where work was. I’ve been in Berkeley for over a year, and it’s nice but its not really home either. It’s interesting then, that I don’t really identify with home as a place. I have no roots that connect me to any place, my friends are scattered all over the world and my childhood memories are only in my head.
However, there was this time some years ago when I first really felt at peace somewhere. It wasn’t a place, but it was in a conversation – one that overlapped many subjects, and had a promise of many more stories to come. I’ve felt at home, and at peace multiple times since that conversation, through future conversations and silences. I’ve felt at home many times, in many different places, and the only constant has been the company I’ve had at the time. I think I knew this was it, the day that I realized this was all I need to feel at home. My home isn’t a place, it is a person and I am grateful for that.