Home! What do you mean by ‘home’? Is there a place which I can call home? In past seven- eight years, I have stayed in different cities. Can they all be called home? No, if not, how will I do justice with the end number of houses I’ve stayed in? The questions like these always popped up in my mind. But one fine evening they all were sorted. Let’s call all those spaces, cities “Almost Home”.
An unknown visitor in the café informed me about a reading happening in British Council. According to her, it was a worth attending event. Why? Because they serve wine once the event is over. My mind pondered over the fact that ‘they serve wine’. Not a bad idea and not worth missing. I asked her- what are they going to read. Something of Githa Hariharan! Hmmm.
Githa Hariharan, I have heard that name before. Is she not the same woman who wrote something about Scheherazade?
Looking forward for a glass of wine in British Council, I went to attend the reading. After reaching there, I came to know that it is a release of Githa’s non-fiction book “Almost Home” and there is no wine. They are just serving tea with sweet biscuits. Ah, fine.
‘Almost Home’, is an author’s perception of spaces, people, memories and conflicts. It’s the same book and author who have helped me evolve an answer to all the questions, I had. Being at home is more to do with mind than physical space.
You are born in a city, have parents, siblings, friends, fuck-buddies and foes all there. Still you don’t feel at home! And you can’t be unjust to that city, as it has given you a lot, call it ‘Almost Home’.
Getting back to the book, it has everything what a curious geographer looks for.
There are cities, there is a certain character to that cities, there is history, there is conflict, there is hope, there is love, there are heartburns and most important there are stories. Stories of those who have lived generations ago, stories of those who are living and creating memories now…
The essence of the book is captured in the following quote:
“Cities don’t stand still, even for old flames. When you meet a city again, there is an awkward reunion. You have to relearn its body, see it with two competing eyes, past and present.”
In the book one hears the age old love stories from the times of Moors’ Spain, gets a chance to meet the ‘worthy triumvate’- ‘Ibn Rushd the Muslim, Moses Maimonides the Jew and Thomas Aquinas the Christian’- standing together, hand in hand, deed in deed, a chance to visit Ramallah and Srinagar in the same breath and yes, be back to Delhi a city which belongs to no one in particular but still home to many.