We all have different conceptions of home and last week, Erin wrote about what home means when you’ve moved your physical location at regular intervals. It got me thinking about what home really meant to me, someone who has had fairly constant physical locations (18 years at my birthplace, followed by 5 years in college and now 2 in Oxford).
And I realised that while home is obviously multi-dimensional, what it really boils down to for me, is that warm, fuzzy feeling of having a solid support system, of knowing that irrespective of whatever may happen, there are people who will stand by me, love me and care for me. This is not to say that all the people who make up my support system make me feel exactly the same way, they don’t. They all contribute differently but together, their love allows me to grow and prosper. But despite the fact that this feeling is not dependent on the physical location of individuals, living away from this very support system is tough.
So, I got to thinking about the ways in which I have tried to connect with home away from home and here’s what I came up with (aside from actually communicating with friends and family over video/voice calls, of course!).
- Cooking and eating home food – For people who are foodies, this one will come naturally. Food is an important part of my country’s culture but also of my life, personally. And whether it is going to the farmer’s market to eat street food that reminds me of good times or having cooking sessions with Bollywood music,
this has definitely been a key part of my efforts at re-creating home.
- Following a home routine – My house, as with households across the world, has a way of doing things, a heartbeat of its own. You can’t see it or hear it, but it’s there. And tuning into that gives me a strange sense of comfort that I can’t entirely explain. While living away, I have tried to follow a similar routine as far as possible and that familiarity definitely breeds comfort. But additionally, when on Skype, my parents also make all possible efforts to behave as though I am there. Whether it is in hearing doorbells or pressure cookers, seeing the sun or just my own room, being in sync with that rhythm helps.
- Expanding my support system locally – This is a tricky one because this takes time and effort. I’ve been very lucky to find people who have helped me do this, both in college and in Oxford. But I’ve also realised that this is perhaps more important than I always like to give it credit for. No matter how tight knit a support system one has at home or indeed, across the world, we all need someone we can have a coffee with or rant over lunch with or even go dancing with. And you need these people to be there, in the flesh. Many of my closest friends live in countries and continents different from mine and luckily, we have managed to maintain those relationships over time and distance. But at the end of the day, there is no substitute for a friend that can actually give you a nice, tight hug when you’re down.
- Sharing my home with others – This has been the strangest and yet most fun one, I think. And I have other friends who have tried this too. Sharing little bits and pieces of my home with my local support system and learning about theirs in turn, has created a shared sense of belonging in all of us that I really cherish. Living away is hard for everyone and having a space to share this stuff makes it easier.
I’d love to hear about other things that you have found helpful in creating a feeling of home! Do write in if you have thoughts to share 🙂