The concept of home is subjective. It may be a place where we have lived for most parts of our lives or for travellers like me, it could be a place we keep going back to in life. No matter the influence of the location or memory, home is a place of belonging. It is where we go back for associations of comfort and security.

In my travels, I have re-lived my various homes through frequent intuitive associations. Sometimes they were relative to what I saw, other times they were what I heard or how I felt. In all of these moments, there has always been a connect to another place I have visited. And I have used them to escape, surrender or feel safe. These have worked like therapy for me.

The Sounds

During Monsoons last year, I visited Coorg. And staying alone in the absolute silence of a rainforest wasn’t too ideal for my inexperienced ears. I craved for the sound of a television; not because I’m a habitual viewer, but only to surround myself with a part of Mumbai’s chaotic ambient noise.

The pitter-patter of rain on the tin roof is another such comfort. It originates from my grandmother’s home in Shillong, where I spent my impressionable childhood years enduring it. It induces a deep meditative sleep within me, apart from the security it brings along.

The rain and its silence.
The rain and its silence.

The Flavours

That sip of chai- it has the power to overcome the most intense emotion in my life. Fortunately, no matter where I have been I have tasted the perfect cup of tea. The chai in the mountains is light, sweet and thick whereas the ones made in the coastal part of India is thin and strong. Europe is a different experience altogether! Adapting to the changes of the terrain and the lifestyles, I have always willingly changed my taste in tea. I must admit, the Spitian tea was the only avoidable one; thanks to the overwhelming taste of buffalo’s milk!

I could go on forever writing about how hot noodle soup is connected to some of my favourite memories. Whether it has been that cold, wintry evening in the mountains or a disconcerting beach experience, that bowl of happiness has always taken me back home and made me feel satisfied.

When one complements another.
When one complements another.

The Visuals

Green, it must be the colour of paradise. Or may be green complemented by blue of the sky and the reflecting surface of the waters. May I contrast the frame by adding the high, white peaks or soft, contoured clouds against the sky blue? These idyllic colours always take me back to the magnificent landscapes I have visited.

Very recently, I woke up to a beautifully saturated, sunny morning in Binsar, Uttarakhand. After days of gloomy skies, I jumped out of my bed and stepped outdoor (absolutely ignorant of how cold it had been the night before) and gawked at the Himalayas. Immediately, I feel rested. It is one of those scenes which can never be wiped away.

On the other hand, I had always dreamed of witnessing Chandra Taal in Spiti on a sunny day, supporting my imaginary colours of paradise. As my luck would have it, it was the only day I met rain in Himachal Pradesh during the trip. Recovering from my initial disappointment, the sight of the clouds hanging above waters of the clear lake had me transfixed. It has grown to become a memory of belonging.

Could this be paradise?
Could this be paradise?

The Aromas

Fresh pine breeze, petrichor or the addictive aroma of caffeine are all home-calling inducements for me. Pine trees take me back to Shillong, perhaps the place where I may have developed the memory of walking across the windy forests with the tall trees above my head. I remember how the distinct smell of the thick pine forests in Gulmarg welcomed me, while reminding me of home.

Goa during the Monsoons is beautiful. The first rain brings along the scent of wet earth, which invariably takes me back to a number of geographies including Delhi, Shillong and Shimla.

Losing myself in Shillong.
Losing myself in Shillong.

Until very recently, I had absolutely no knowledge of how these memories made their association with each of my senses and have now become a part of my life. And I suppose, as I travel further, I only hope to sharpen this bond.

What are your intuitive associations with home?

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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4 thoughts on “The Senses of Home”

  1. If I have to say I will say: Home is where family members lives together and if that is birth place – the best.

    1. I agree at a level. By that definition, my home has been around the world, literally!

  2. Home is where you come back and plan for the next trip ;)
    On a more serious note…its a place where you belong coz of the people around you..irrespective of the location

    1. Haha! I agree, and where the Wi-Fi connects automatically ;)

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