Home is what a person makes of it. It’s about people and not about the place. The hostel or the quarters that we loved so much and considered as our homes or the school we were so “at-home” with is no longer the same. Go back to your school after years, you will find that the teachers are different, the setting is different and the mood is different. It is no longer yours. It is all about people and not the place.
Patna- my hometown, where my grandparents lived- both sets. I have always loved to holiday at my maternal grandparents’ home. Whereas if we were to stay at my paternal grandparents’ home, separated by 15-20 minutes drive and a railway crossing (bridge today) from maternal home, I used to not be very pleased. It’s not that I hated being there. Children don’t do hate. They just don’t enjoy or like things very much. I had a lot of affection for my grandparents but just that I enjoyed my stay in the maternal home more- why, would be a subject of another post.
In 2006, my Mom who had just moved over to the paternal home a year back after Dad’s retirement invited us to come over for a 2 month stay as I was on my maternity leave. To tell you the truth, I was apprehensive. For one thing, I hadn’t been there for a stay since perhaps 1996 after my grandma’s death and after grandpa died the house was put up for rent and I had taken a flying visit in 2004 just to look up the place and get the mangoes plucked. The place was in a mess. The tenants had mucked up the entire house and it looked dreary and not at all inviting.
Moreover there had been thefts atleast three times and I was not the least bit comfortable about going there. Infact for atleast 2 years I had pestered my parents to sell the place and look for a place in Delhi or Chennai. I simply did not want to visit them in Patna.
My mom assured me that we will like being there. With many grains of salt and doubts I went to Patna for a holiday with the kids (the husband joined later on). The true meaning of home is what people make of it dawned on me then. Mom had really in the words of my Dad's sister - “naksha badal diya thaa”- she had changed the whole house and made it ergonomically and aesthetically sensible and inviting.
The front balcony was grilled for safety and a mini sitting area created there with garden chairs and table. The drawing room had 2 sofa sets and carpet instead of the usual 6 chairs in my grandma’s time. The inner lobby was recreated with a study table, diwan and a book case converted into showcase/ crockery rack and decorative stuff on the top. All rooms were furnished with beds & curtains. The kitchen was redone with marble and the kitchen top extended to create more workspace. The store area was provided with a small table for placing stuff and a larder in addition to the shelves that were already there. The table was also used as a mini dining area by my kids last year. The dining room was redone- putting a crockery rack, a diwan because the huge dining room was also a socialization centre, tables for electrical equipment. The puja area was shifted from the dining room floor to the bedroom – a mini puja area created using a small cupboard. The backyard was cleaned up and plants planted. The bathrooms were redone and geysers, A/C and inverters provided. Mom made the best of waste and impressed people with the way she utilized space. The place is today much live-able and I look forward to going there now. Only thing I need to be smart enough to go in winter or pre-winter to escape load shedding and the heat! Adding to the pluses of a comfortable home which is not stifling like an apartment, I had never realized the huge shopping potential the place had. I have lightened my bank balance the last 3 visits I have done, to a great extent. You would have read about it. Let’s face it- Patna doesn’t have fast food joints, good restaurants but I binged on Mithais, home cooked food from parents & grandparents /Mama-Mami’s homes and had a lot of Bihari home-made snacks. Patna does not have branded wear or shopping malls but I freaked out on Saris, dress material and cheap but decorative sandals. As you know, take me to any part of the world and I can manage to shop, I more than managed there.