Monday, March 2, 2009

Where is Home?

I was tagged by Shayla to post the 4th photo from my 4th folder. But since I'd done something similar recently, I decided to modify her tag a little. The photo she posted led her to wonder about being home. And I've picked that theme up for this tag.

Home ... where is home?

I've lived almost exactly half my life in Chennai, India and half in four different states in the US. But when I sit down and think about it, the picture of home that comes to mind is a place where I've never lived, and have visited only about 3-4 times.

Kerala - a Southern state in India where my parents were born, and their parents were born ... though I've never really lived there, and only partially understand the language, I feel it is home.

With a large part of its land covered in evergreen forests and hills, and a long and beautiful coastline, there are aesthetic reasons why Kerala can make anyone want to live here. There is lush greenery everywhere, and this is a state that is famous for its backwaters.




Coconut palms grow everywhere ...


... and fruit trees & flowers grow in profusion in the fertile land. Jackfruit is so common that no one will pay money to buy the fruit in the market. I once found this deliciously sweet fruit at a farmers market in Atlanta. I had to leave it behind when I found that a slice the size of a slice of pizza cost $25 !!



Wild pineapples fall over with their weight ...



... ripe cashew fruit hangs from trees all over (sorry about the blurry photo)



and cool coconut water can be had by the roadside.


It is a land of beauty and nature's bounty. But beyond all this ...



It is the place where my parents, grandparents, and their grandparents before them lived their lives. On a recent visit to India, I went with my parents to Kerala, and visited the places where they lived as children. These places are still almost exactly the way they were all those years ago when my grandmother was a young girl, and I could see their stories come alive before me.

The temple tank that my grandmother used to visit daily as a young woman ...



Did she admire these pink lilies too?


The beautiful temple that generations of my family worshipped at ...



Where the sweet perfume of the Nagalinga (cannonball flower) scents the air.



Did my grandmother linger beside the tree too, mesmerized by the perfume ...



There is so much history here, and so many stories of my ancestors that I have heard, that I can almost feel their presence in these places. It is strangely satisfying to walk along roads they walked on and visit the places they visited every day.

So though I have never lived there, Kerala is home to me.

How about you? If you would like to ponder this question too, please feel free to take up the tag, and leave me a comment letting me know. I'd love to come over and read about it.

Have a great week.

34 comments:

LadyFi said...

Beautiful photos! I've always wanted to go to Kerala as I've heard it is lovely there.

It's strange how a place can feel like home because your ancestors lived there - even though you haven't.

I've moved around a lot, so no one place is 'home'. Although I do call both England and Sweden (where I now live) 'home'.

Shalini said...

Beautiful post. I loved reading about and seeing photos of Kerala but even better was how you have entwined your family's experiences and lives in a way that shows that this place truly is home.

Vamsee said...

As usual, beautiful pictures and beautiful writing.
I have never been to Kerala...want to go there.
I grew up in Hyderabad, India. My first few years in the US, home was still Hyderabad, but as the years went by, Fremont, CA became home. I would visit India and at the end of the trip, I would look forward to going home (Fremont). Now, Mumbai is where I live, but Hyderabad is home!

Sydney said...

Oh, I can see why you would feel connected to it, even if generations of your family was not from there. That pink blossom from the tree was extraordinary!

I am not sure if I went there... i answered your question about where I've been in India on my last post FLAILING.

I didn't get to the north/mountains and can't believe we just could not get to the Ganges. I would love to go back. I loved the people. And I could cut the spirituality that I felt in the air with a knife. I felt it the second I got off the plane and it was there no matter where I went.

Shayla said...

Bindu, that was wonderful. Roots, and a sense of history are so important to home. So many tell me that as long as they've got their hubby and kids, then they're home. Although that's good, there's more to it than that for me and that made me feel shallow. The way you put it here shows that all the nuances of home are something to cherish.

French Fancy said...

Fabulous photos - no wonder Blu loves coming here so much. I think it's so good for people to travel around and live in lots of different places.

Raghav said...

You make me want to move to Kerala now.

Blu said...

My brother went to Kerala and showed be a slide show on his PC...simply enchanting and so green. Those pink flowers are incredible.

Its lovely that you feel your roots.

Nancy and the fatties said...

Bindu, you have such a rich family history. What an unbelievably beautiful place. thank you for sharing!
warm pughugs

Raph G. Neckmann said...

How beautiful, Bindu. Kerala looks such a wonderful place, and the way you describe your ancestors is so moving.

I have dearly loved places I have lived, including where I am now. But my real sense of 'home' is more inside me, a kind of inner place.

Chris said...

Isn't it funny the way a place can call you home even if you haven't lived there. We have places in Minnesota that are like that to us. Grandparents were there once and there is a call that makes us all return. My husband and I once made a trip to North Carolina and felt a profound sense of loss when we left to go home. Sometimes I think past lives intersect current ones. Your "home" looks like heaven on earth. The stuff of dreams. Wishing you well Bindu

3rdEyeMuse said...

I think I will have to ponder this for a while ... as an army brat, I don't think I ever really had roots planted in any one place. I'll let you know if I ever post something about it.

I love how you find home to be a place where your roots can be found ... doesn't hurt that it is so full of such beauty, either. :)

Srividya said...

Hi Bindu,

Lets move there. My dream is to settle there as well !

Vidya

Indrani said...

Kerala was my home too. I am not a malayali... I grew up in TVM. I just love that place.Thanks for these shots.

Leslie said...

Such wonderful photos and a nice story about "home". Kerala looks like a beautiful place to live-so many nice fruits and flowers, plants and vegetation. The pink lillys are fantastic. I can certainly see why you would want to call this home.

xoxo,
Leslie

bb mcclain said...

About a year ago I went to visit the farm where my grandparents lived when I was growing up. It hadn't changed much but the small town down the road was dilapidated and ugly. Last June, while vacationing in Florida I went to where my other grandparents lived and where we used to vacation when I was a kid. The area used to be neat as a pin but now that area has gone downhill too. You're lucky that your heritage home has remained unchanged. I can see why you love it there.

~vagabond~ said...

I had goosebumps when I read the title of your post because I was going to write a post with that exact same title last week...and then got busy and the post remained forgotten...maybe I'll write it out this week or the next. I enjoyed reading your post on this...it's full of nostalgia...and I got the chance to see Kerala too. :)

Robyn said...

I so enjoyed this post Bindu. I've been wondering about my feelings for the home of my forefathers just lately too. Whenever I see photographs or TV programs about this area I feel so homesick and yet I was born in another continent.

Henry the Dog said...

Found your blogsite through Blu.Such wonderful photos and a lovely post. Mum has always wanted to visit India. Mum now feels at home in France and no longer feels that the UK is her home. She connects with France more than any other country she's visited.

ArtSparker said...

What an extraordinary place - and the last photos, of the cannonball flowers - wow.

~mE said...

very nice bindu...ill pick up tag and ping you when i write :)
Lovely pictorial rep of Home...:)the photos are great. Makes me want to visit my native

meb said...

bindu...you remind me of the Island I was born on which is in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. Very old fashioned...very quaint, and when my parents were living, we would spend two weeks there of "camp meeting" every year. That's 3 church services a day for two weeks, and we went every service.

My grandchildren want to go visit there to see the family homestead, and hopefully we'll make it this summer. You have to go by boat, so warmer months are better for the sightseeing.

None of my family live there now, but I definitely feel like it's home.

Great post bindu. I've too have been lazy posting ... I need to do something soon.

bindu said...

Thanks, everyone - for your comments, and for writing about what home means to you. It was very interesting reading each one of your comments. Isn't it amazing how a simple place can be so special just because of our memories and life experiences!

MASALA CHAI said...

Hey Bindu,

I too am a Chennai dwelling , world traveling mallu , so this post really resonated with me.

Which temple is that? Looks quite familiar.

Patricia Torres said...

Lovely posts.. lovely pictures Bindu.. Home is indeed where the heart is!!

I've always planned a trip to Kerala.. that has never materialised... Hence.. just loved your post!!

GMG said...

Hi Bindu!
Sorry I couldn’t visit you for the last weeks! I’m trying to catch-up and see the wonders you have around!
Wonderful post! Actually home is always where you feel like home...

Meanwhile, the last of the beautiful Forts in Jaipur waits you at Blogtrotter: – The Nahargarh Fort! Enjoy and have a great week!

Lakshmi said...

lovely images of kerala..its unspoilt by development and thats why its called gods own country

TheKeyBunch said...

Beautiful post...beautiful Kerala!

- Sharon
www.thekeybunch.com

pink dogwood said...

Kerala has been on my list of places to visit for a long time. What a beautiful post. I just finished reading Dreams from my father by Obama and he write about similar feelings when he visited his father's village in Kenya.

Elizabeth said...

Such beautiful nature pictures!
One day I'll go to Kerala.

Barbara Martin said...

Beautiful photos of a lush country, and your feeling of belonging to Kerala reminded me of my two years in England some time ago. Although I was born in Canada, I felt like I had gone 'home' to London. Perhaps it was because my grandmother and her family were from there: or I had lived many previous lives there.

Deepu said...

Nice post and pictures. Nostalgic. Myself going home for all of april. Cochin. :) Think I am gonna enjoy the vacation.

dolphin said...

beautiful pictures. always wondered why kerala is called god's own country! an eye-opener through your pictures and writing!

i believe your grandmother must have enjoyed the place just as you've

being born in hyderabad, i haven't yet got a chance to visit kerala. i would definitely plan my next visit there!

Anupama said...

Wonderful post, Bindu. Wandered here from your FB page...Captivating images as ever. The Nagalinga was absolutely stunning. You must put together a travelogue/memoir someday. I want to fly there tomorrow. I have been to Kerala (home ?)but mostly as a child and once to Calicut officially. Would love to spend hours of leisure exploring this fantastic state. I agree that we immigrants are always in search of the elusive sense of belonging. I think that as long as you have a peaceful image of a happy place when you think of home, that's all that matters.
Anupama