It’s quite the cliché that I choose to delve into for this post, but I simply cannot contain my happiness about getting to come home every six weeks or so. It wasn’t a luxury I was accustomed to when I was living in the Middle East. Homecomings then used to be just once or twice a year – those were the only times I felt a sense of comfort and belonging – the result of having lived in faraway lands. Having moved back to Bangalore a couple of years ago, I am able to make use of the distance advantage on a more frequent basis. My hometown is Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala.
When I use the word homecoming, it means a multitude of things for me. It signifies a welcome return to seeing Malayalam movie posters on the streets and the (totally unnecessary) hoardings of Mammootty and Mohanlal in stylish avatars, getting to see hot banana chips being fried at shops and the artsy (Kerala) way of making tea, taking in the aroma of samosas and banana fritters, cutting across busy intersections with lungi-clad men and saree-clad women, passing bus stops (sheds basically) where old men sit and indulge in banter, and of course, feasting my eyes on plenty of serene green stretches. This is HOME. This is where I feel I’m 100% myself.
There’s a lot more to that if I were to elaborate. Home is where I like spending evenings on the terrace, watching the sunset while sweating it out. Home is where I switch on the tv to annoying, ceaseless jingles of Naaptol ads (in Malayalam) and catch up on news about local scuffles, organic farming, the latest Malayalam flicks, and more. It is where I have a green garden to invite myself to; a place I can observe a barrage of colours that are easy on the eye – flora of different kinds, a bee-hive I can only watch from a distance and adore, a canopy of climbers that bop about on a windy/rainy day, and a few bowls of water for birds to quench their thirst during the hot summers.
This is where I can wake up any casual morning to the sound of birds chirping or the tring-tring of the newspaper boy’s cycle, to a cup of hot black tea followed by crisp dosas or soft appams. A 15-km drive will get me to Kovalam and a 40-km drive will take me to Varkala – two of Kerala’s most sought-after beach destinations. I can recall the umpteen number of times I’ve been to both these places with friends from my school days – a cold mug of beer, french fries, and peanut masala are all it takes to get us nostalgic and ranting about the good old days. It has also become a routine to walk the beach strip from end to end, sometimes unceremoniously deciding to get our feet messy with brine and beach sand. There are various vantage points from where you can catch a terrific sunrise/sunset if you’re up for it. In case you’re looking for a hill station, Ponmudi is just an hour’s drive away. The place has got it all covered!
I cannot forget the tang of cutlets and cold coffee from the Indian Coffee House eateries in the city. They’ve always been my go-to place on any given evening in the city (one major reason being the pocket-friendliness), especially before or after a movie. And there’s the Trivandrum Club. The one place where you can eat like a loony in under 200 bucks. The swimming pool at the club is one place I have too many fond memories attached to, and I’m overwhelmed to see it looking as brilliant as it did a couple of decades ago when I was taking my first lessons.
Most of all, home is where I get to listen to my mom and dad yap and jokingly insult the hell out of each other. It is where I can feel the warmth of parenthood. Cinema is a recurring topic of discussion, and I can’t even begin to explain why. It’s where I can revel in my solitude and be around my favourite people at the same time. I can see a new set of bird photo-frames in my dining room (all captured on my DSLR by mom!) every time I’m visiting. I can see new plant pots (or old ones coloured differently by dad!) and wind chimes adding to my home’s aesthetics. For all these reasons and more, home will remain close to my heart no matter where I go and how physically far away I am. When I’m home, I can put all my temporary problems to rest and breathe easy once again! Next time I say I miss home, you know the reasons.