At Home, yet far away from Home

What a beautiful small little world. A young German couple came into office with their two little kids and filled me up with nostalgia and yearning for my life in Germany. All these months I’ve been trying to be strong about not being too home-sick about Germany, but the typical reserved yet sweet interaction, that familiar accent, the familiar German names, and saying my favourite German words in the short five minute chat has got me almost teary eyed. And this comes just moments after I was going through my account on my German University website and contemplating about whether I should start thinking about ways to maybe return. I’ll just take this as a strong positive sign.

It has been exactly six months since I said goodbye to a set of wonderful people at the Frankfurt International Airport and made my way back home to India. The tearful goodbyes were mixed with feelings of excitement and apprehensions- Excitement at returning home to family after over a year and apprehensions about having to start all over again. The thought of leaving behind my favourite kind of life was so scary that I chose not to dwell over it, to project myself as a happy, strong and non-vulnerable person. Saying goodbye to my favourite people broke my heart beyond any repair, because I knew that some ties will snap and I’d never know if and when I’ll see them again. These people from all across the world had turned themselves into my family at a country that had become home for me so effortlessly. The love and warmth that I received in Germany was in huge measures, and I had never anticipated it while taking my first international flight in 2012. The despair at leaving all of it behind was as overwhelming as the joys that the place and the people gave me.

I wasn’t sure about how I’d take to Mumbai after having fallen in love with Berlin, Budapest, Cordoba, Dresden, Erfurt and Vienna. I would later realise that I had become a calmer version of myself: the fear of missing out on fun had reduced. Probably because of my travels across Europe that had satiated at least a bit of my wanderlust, I now realise that the world is waiting and is absolutely accessible, only if one has a desire to reach out to it. However, the transition wasn’t as easy as I have been trying to fake it to be. As a friend rightly pointed out when I shared with him the emotional rollercoaster of leaving Germany behind; having experienced over ten countries in two and a half years, love and friendship of people from all across the world, different and more pleasant realities in places far away from home – leaving it all behind to return seemed almost like a one-way journey downhill.

But as happens in life, after every low comes a high. I might have felt like I was crashing downward when it was time to return, but like in a roller coaster, right when I felt I would hit rock bottom, there came a little high. I have recently joined work at a non-profit organization that is committed to the cause of promoting communal harmony. Working with a bunch of extremely dedicated and idealistic social activists, who are part of a movement to protect India’s secularism, I feel I’m on the path of fulfilling my dreams for our society. The work amazes me and inspires me every day and only makes me want to do it on a larger and more organized scale. Having returned to Mumbai after two years I initially found myself alone, as if having been suspended in mid-air dangling around trying to find a spot for myself. This feeling too, shall pass.

I’m at a happy place now, but how does one tame this mind and heart which know that there are still happier places? How does one shrug off the desire to move to another city or a country- that feeling that crawls up every now and then? How do I stop my heart from leaping with jealousy every time I see an airplane take off? The world is too big and too attractive. There’s too much to be done here.

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