A Whiff Of Home

I was talking to my sister on the phone one day when the laundrywala rang the doorbell. I asked him to wait a couple of minutes while I winded up the call. Later, while handing him the clothes, I apologised to him for keeping him waiting. I told him that I had been on an international call, talking to my sister who lives in Lucknow. The moment the laundrywala heard the word Lucknow, his eyes lit up. “Lucknow!!” he exclaimed, “It was the city from which I took the plane to Dubai!” He then went on to tell me that his maternal uncle lived in Lucknow and how much fun he used to have in the city. My mentioning of the word Lucknow animated him. It made him remember the times when he would go exploring the streets of Alambagh with his cousins. It reminded him of his home and the life he had before he came to Dubai. For a few moments, he forgot the daily drudgery of collecting and ironing clothes in a cramped, hot shop, of living in squalid, shared accommodation and the pinching of pennies so that the family back home could have luxuries.

The conversation with the laundrywala made me remember a chance encounter with a manager of a quad biking outlet in the middle of the desert. By a weird coincidence, not only was he from my hometown of Dehradun, but he was also from the same locality. Needless to say, two strangers found a common connection. A pleasant hour was spent reminiscing about our small, green town sitting under a canvas shed surrounded by the golden desert. The only link that gentleman and I had was our city. And yet, there was an instant connection for the short time that I had interacted with him.

Being an expatriate, especially in the Gulf states, means we are nomads. After a few good years spent here, we will have to go back to India. I had written about the conflicting emotions as an expatriate living in UAE in an earlier blog called “A Place To Call Home”. The conversation with the laundrywala and the encounter with the gentleman reinforced the thought that despite the long years spent in this country, we are still immigrants. We are still tied to India and more specifically, to our cities. If we find someone from our own city, it is like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This is especially true if you come from smaller towns. It is almost as if we have found someone who can rid us of the sense of alienation in a foreign land. When we talk to someone from our city, we try to capture the good memories, the fun times we used to have. Hearing our own language being spoken by someone else is like music to our ears. We are just happy that we found someone with a common link.

Sometimes I wonder, what is the psychology behind this search to find people from our region or state? Why, wherever we Indians are(whether in India or abroad), do we try to form our respective regional associations? Is it because we long for the familiarity of language, our culture, our land.

Or is it because when we meet someone from our region, they carry with them, a whiff of home.


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Psst I have recently published my first book “Xanadu: Three Souls Searching For Their Paradise” on Amazon, do check it out

Featured Image Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

28 thoughts on “A Whiff Of Home

  1. Harshita, your writing sparkles! This was a wonderful post which spoke of the instant connection two people feel when they discover common roots. Nothing like the whiff of home to make the heart grow fonder, as they say. Kudos!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The present blog has in fact dealt – with a psychological property – sense of association with the events of their existence and grows as the time passes. Author, has efficiently penned this complex nature of this property in extremely simple words. This is an excellent approach. Keep it up.
    Dr. S. K. Nanda

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I can now understand how you feel, Harshita. I was born and lived all my life in one city i.e 57 years. Now I have moved in with my daughter and I feel so strange. The city does have a whiff as you have pointed out. Hope you visit soon and have a great time in Dehradun.

    Liked by 1 person

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