There is no place like home, and the fact that I do not possess ruby red slippers was no barrier to my repeating that phrase as often as possible during my trip to India this summer. It was my first trip there since I had moved to Canada about five years ago, and the idea of a homecoming appealed to me immensely. Before I had left, in a rush of an eleven year old child’s sentimentality, I had promised myself that I would forever live in two parts – one that I was leaving behind and one that I would take with me into the future. So there I was, sitting on a plane and hoping to rediscover myself, and waiting to find out what my home was like.
However, the best laid plans go awry and this vacation was no exception. My advice for those hoping to enjoy a peaceful vacation in India would be to do the opposite of everything I did. Ensure that you do not travel there in the sultry month of July, especially if you are accustomed to the freezing snows of Canadian prairies. Please do not spend the first night reading a book instead of sleeping; it will not improve your jet lag. The next morning, if you must travel, take an air conditioned taxi instead of trying to hail an auto rickshaw (and if you do use one, monitor the fare meter). If you plan to visit famous monuments like the Taj Mahal or the Agra Fort, do not try to do so the day after a huge religious celebration like Janmashtmi, the area will be too crowded for you to enjoy the sights. If you are sleeping in an area with an abundance of mosquitoes (like, say your grandparents’ place), use a mosquito net, bug spray, cover yourself with a sheet and close the light in the room to avoid attracting more bugs. If you go shopping in stores like the ubiquitous Vishal Mega Mart, make sure that the cash you are trying to pay with is not damaged and torn beyond repair. Even in urban centers like Delhi, do not venture outside on rainy days, the streets flood quicker than you would expect them to. And finally, do not visit family at a time when the schools usually hold their exams. Watching other people study is much less exciting that you imagine it to be.
Being bored does, however, provide large amounts of time for introspection. In the midst of my homecoming, I was able to see that it was perfect in its own quirky way. I did belong among my uncles, aunts and grandparents. Their love made everything alright even if the weather made me sweat like a pig. I was able to see my parents enjoying themselves in their childhood homes, despite being bug bitten all over. I learnt that my home might not have been perfect, but it was mine. In the same way, though, Canada is mine too. Home can be anywhere, as long as love can be found. When leaving India, I had my face pressed to the window of the plane, and I realized I didn’t need to split myself in two this time. The entire world is my home.
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