The flight took me from Pune to Delhi. In the flight, seated next to me was a foreigner. Being instinctively wary, I did my best to ignore him but he had something else in mind. Chris did not let me read the book I had bought with me, nor did he let me loose myself in the music I had so carefully compiled for my journey. He was on a holiday. And he wanted to get a feel of the local culture. So we got talking about Punjab, the land of my ancestors. We discussed Sikh history, current literacy and poverty standards and other social issues prevailing in the State. The two hours flew by. The flight landed. And I proceeded to “Apna Punjab”, and he went his way.
On the journey home, I looked outside and saw the scenes flying by my window in new light: The fields of mustard and sunflower and of paddy and wheat. I thought of the farmers who were relying on the rains for their prosperity. I saw tall slim girls with hair that came to their knees, dressed in modest suits and cheap jewellery. I saw hues of pink, jazzy yellow, sky pink, and even florescent orange in the hues of the turbans. I saw vespa and bajaj scooters. I saw a family of 4 travelling on a vespa in the scorching heat, and laughing at some joke, uncaring, unperturbed. I saw heavy unkempt middle aged women haggling for every penny with the vegetable vendors, while a loudspeaker from the nearby Gurudwara sounded the Kirtan (prayer)
I related to all of that, and yet nothing was related to me. This was supposed to be my home. This was my culture. This was the religion I was born into. And I was fascinated by it! A fascination not laced with belongingness, but with the feeling of an outsider.
As I approached Chandigarh, the scene changed. The city was well kept, the people in their A.C. cars. The young girls wore jeans, straigtened their hair and wore oversized glares. Their clothes screamed “Branded”. The turbans turned a bit mellow: blues and grays. The face of a big city of Punjab, where everybody seemed prosperous, and they all frowned.
This was home. It did not feel like home. It was a transit in the journey. I call my father’s house Hotel Home. When I come back to pune: it’s the Hostel. Relative’s places are exactly that. The fact of the matter remains that I am content with such a prospect. I don’t want a permanent recidency. I don’t want a house that can be called a home.
Eventually, this contentment might change into discontentment. But eventualities are something I naively ignore. And this naivety is something I cherish more than ever.
I am not lonely though I might seem alone
I need a place to stay, but I don’t want a home
I am a gypsy woman, a vagabond at heart
Where one journey ends, I wish the next would start
– Harsimran K. Kapoor