Sunday, June 06, 2010

Home is where the heart is

Glimpse, originally uploaded by halwis.
Melbourne, Australia (20th May) - My sleepy eyes have outdone the conscientious alarm by thirty minutes. I lie awake grudgingly, because sleep would elude me for at least another 24 hours. Emboldened by a hot shower, I am over confident about my ability to forego the mandated quota of sleep. While going through a mental checklist of what I have packed, I sense a hint of nostalgia when I accidentally catch a glimpse outside my bedroom window, of two garden recliners in an overgrown backyard. I feel compelled to frame the sight with my camera and end up snapping a few shots of my books including one that still loiters on my table – kept out of the shelves because of its enticing epilogue which I had read many times over even though I had finished reading the book the previous week.

The ride to the airport with Suraj (on board faithful old ‘Berta’) is held up by a pile-up on the freeway. I realise we’ve come too far to get to an alternate route and it makes me a bit nervous for not having allowed much time for the unexpected. The delay means however that I waste no time loitering in the Duty-Free shops or wondering about impatiently for a boarding call. I secretly commend a nameless security officer at the emigration counter whose act and candid talk hides all implicit suspicions of any terrorist inclinations I may have. While subjecting me to my first ever body check in Australia in nearly seven years, he asks me where my destination is and perhaps having read my thoughts, tries to console me with the suggestion that I would have enough time to rest and sleep during the flight. I tell him in all honesty, that I like flying too much, to waste that time on sleep. Perhaps he cared enough to know.

I had diligently reserved a window seat to enjoy the sights, of mountain bridges that link the flat Earth to lofty clouds and giant vessels crawling feebly but unintimidated, across the vastness of the sea. Even though I fly more often now, The wonder of human flight and the sights it afford have not yet lost their ability to delight me.

I descend on an escalator to the departure lounge and come face to face with the behemoth that would part the clouds to take me over arid desert, oceans, rivers and rain forests, dwarfed mountain peaks and scenic valleys, on my way to a place I long to see. Sparing only a few minutes to snap a few shots of the aircraft which is has not yet dislodged itself from my imagination of the future to become part of the present reality. The years have gone by too fast and there is so much left for me to learn to believe - just to catch up to the present moment.

I notice slanted markings on the tarmac spelling out “Home”. As I take my seat on the upper deck, the usual expectations and thrill associated with ‘going home’ evades me even in my attempts to will it into being. ‘Home’ is a name of a place I find increasingly difficult to recognise or define anymore. I don’t know whether I am leaving home or going home. It seems I am leaving home to go home because I no longer have a single place I can naively call ‘home’. There is not one place where I can swear my allegiance to without forsaking another or a narrow patriotism that I can focus on one place that falls within any given set of lines on a political map of the world.

I am yet to set out on the long and arduous journey both intellectually and also in terms of worldly experience, to be able to present my credentials as a citizen of the world. My worldview is not broad or tempered by many travels, but it has pierced the shell that defined me in terms of where I live. Perhaps I am simply a nomad whose sojourns have uprooted the concept of ‘home’ in his conscience.

I buckle in my seat belt and leave aside the book in my hand to try and define this journey in terms of my attachments to the place and dependence on the people at my destination, or for that matter, those that I am temporarily leaving behind.

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