I’m in Pune with my grandmother. I’ve slept through most of the day today, with the remaining part of the day spent eating gulab jamuns and saaranna. I’m well and truly being pampered and showered with affection and love. I’m also relaxing. There are no deadlines, there’s nothing to respond to, no e-mails to write. Just this blog, which I sort of got out of bed to type out.
It’s uncanny that things work out the way they do. Everytime I come to Pune, I find myself at odds with the kind of connectivity I experience when I am here. I’m mostly grateful that it enables me to be a little underground, but the lack of internet and the troubling phone network sometimes gets to me. It’s pushed me far too underground at times – not a place I’m comfortable being. I thrive on being able to engage with people, and to lose that ability, virtually, is a little difficult. It’s why I struggle with being off WhatsApp at times. I enjoy being able to respond to people, and have conversations. Staying in touch gives me happiness. But everytime I come to Pune, I realize that (a) I’ll spend less time than I usually do on my phone, and (b) that my messages deliver to people slowly, sometimes with a massive lag. I prepare myself mentally for that, but I usually get a little irritable around day 2 of the trip – just because of the fact that my messages aren’t delivering, or I’m unable to hold a conversation with someone I like speaking to.
So of course, at a time where I have virtually not too many people to speak to, nothing to respond to, really, and I don’t really need the internet for the next couple of days – the connectivity in and around this house appears to be spiking. Signal strength is still relegated to a singular bar on the cellular icon on the right corner of my mobile’s display, but things are working fine enough for me to video call my parents at length, and to play multiple rounds of Call of Duty: Mobile multiplayer.
Other than that, today I heard my paternal grandmother speak about my maternal grandmother. I’ve always been curious about the relationship that two in-laws (so to speak) share with each other. You’re not really blood relatives. You only enter each other’s lives when you’re an “adult”, and you share a relationship by virtue of your children sharing a relationship. I wonder sometimes how difficult that is to establish, and to navigate. Or in general, to learn to trust.
My grandmothers just spoke about me. They both literally cook me the same food (to be honest, everybody does – because it’s the only thing I like eating [gulab jamuns and saaranna]), and they spoke about how my paternal grandmother has the opportunity to enjoy Diwali with me, and how I’d then go to Dubai and see my maternal grandmother. Then they spoke about how my parents were taking care of my grandparents there – showing them around the city and such.
In that moment I realized that I’m just a combination of all these gene pools. I also accepted all the affection being showered upon me in its entirety. I’m not going to be loved (flaws and all) anywhere the way I am at home. There’s no place that’s going to help me when I’m sad the way home does. There’s not really a single place that’ll give me the amount of joy home brings and the amount of affection home brings to me.
I’ve always struggled with defining what home is. In large parts this is because of how comfortable I am everywhere I go – and how I refer to each place I survive in as home. That definition tweaked a little for me today. I still think home is where I am – but in some parts, I think it’s where I search for, and find those feelings. That comfort, that warmth, that joy. That affection.
And all those gulab jamuns and saaranna.
[For the uninitiated: saaranna is rasam and rice. It is an amalgamation of the Kannada words saaru, meaning rasam, and anna, meaning rice. Saaru’s literal translation is “essence”, and it’s commonly described on the internet as a lentil soup prepared with sweet-sour stock and tomato extract, along with garnish. It’s actual translation is love.]