Yesterday, i was watching a fabulous program on NDTV with Barkha Dutt interviewing an Egyptian-British Author and Dr. Shashi Tharoor and the discussion was on the notion of home. It did stir a hornets nest of emotions as i have lived in three cities in culturally varied parts of the world and never totally totally felt ‘Home’ anywhere. A large part of my life i have lived in Mumbai but never could make it home emotionally. There has been always a chasm between the physical environment and the ‘man inside my head’. I never could relate to the ethos here. The identity based cultural fabric of Suburban Mumbai has been quite discomforting, as a Bengali Speaking Half Bengali; it was difficult fitting in.
Muscat is another city where i lived as much time as I have lived in Mumbai. The quiet laziness of Muscat was more affable, but living as an expat without citizenship rights meant that there was always a gulf between the aspiration of creating a ‘home’ away from home and a place i could relate. The Arab/Islamic Culture was something i got immersed in and i truly liked being in that mould. A Shatti Al Qurum was more my place than Marine Drive although the latter is more majestic.
Singapore is where i found myself, was more accepted as i explored myself. My ethnicity did not matter in this ‘Rojak’ Culture lah! A Mustafa Centre was as Home as the Heartland of Serangoon. Singapore is truly global, and that provided the canvas to create an emotional home as i found friends, a Church and finally my identity.
I am back to Mumbai, working here and can sense that home is less about a geography and more about feeling an ’emotional connect’ about a place. The people matter around you and not the structures.
Ultimately, Home is where the soul is.