Thursday, March 6, 2014

March musings

"A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image."

~ John Didion

When the other side of the globe looks forward to signs of change, to pearly sprouts of spring hopes, this side has begun anticipating the reign of a brutal sun and the imminent decay of anything and everything. Life and Death, spinning the wheels of the world.

A few days back, an Instagram friend asked me to which place did I belong and if I still lived in the US since my posts are pretty random without any chronological coherence, and the quirky hashtags #upperleftusa and #northwestisbest are used a lot to caption them. My answer was: "I live in Hyderabad now, my second time in the city followed by an earlier four-years' stint as a student though I belong to the coastal state of Odisha... and yes, we were in the States for almost five years". To this the friend replied: "You belong to so many places!", and that got me thinking.
I do after all, don't I? I even belong to places where I have lived only for a week, places that I've just been to as a tourist. Maybe belongingness comes easily to me, it's the uprootedness that I have a problem with. And in the process I have given shape to absent spaces, claimed certain parts and people of those places as mine and in turn, made them a part of my little world. How effortlessly I belong to each one of them, ever so easily like wearing a new skin, partaking in their joys and miseries equally. And therefore, I cannot help but mull over these geographies from time to time, be it the fate of the people or simply the changing seasons.

These days I go back to Orhan Pamuk's Istanbul: Memories and the City a lot, a book that I started reading some six months back and have been deliberately procrastinating to reach its end. It's so sensually rich in nostalgia and so brilliant is Pamuk's rendition of his city, that one immediately feels his aching love for the much-fabled streets of Istanbul. An acute sense of loss and melancholy hangs like a light but omnipresent fog throughout the memoir which is beautifully laced with black and white photographs of the city as Pamuk has seen and known it. One sentence that often comes back to me from the book is: "Life can't be all that bad," i'd think from time to time. 'Whatever happens, i can always take a walk along the Bosphorus."

Which is my Bosphorus then? The beach and the mango trees that I call home? Or the view of the misty Cascades that I know as home? Or the disarming smiles of the Himalayan faces amid whom I feel most at home? Or the dusty streets of an old city that I had once proudly boasted of as my second home?

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