Home is where the heart is

CASTLE OF CLOUDS

Home is where the heart is

Fantasy houses are mere chic addresses. But people and their living make homes, reminds  Reethika Azariah Kuruvilla. 

Once upon a time, home was a cosy recluse where you could spend most of the day sleeping, reading a book on the lawn outside (until your dear mother confiscated it “Put that book down when you are called!”), listening to loud music in your room, slamming doors because you were angry, rolling on the floor laughing with your sibling or having a good sulk about strict parents. Coming home, from college or work in another city, meant not having to think of your next meal, and not worrying about paying bills.  However, as the years have gone by, siblings have moved abroad, and our remaining family numbers on the subcontinent have significantly dwindled. No longer are our houses filled with family and relatives, and no longer do we cook like we’re feeding the army. 

Once upon a time, people made homes, but today, luxe makes houses. Bright sunlight streaming through large bay windows that overlook a golf-course-like lawn. Birds chirping away on lush green trees. Exquisite handpicked furniture and pristine tiles. A mirage of the eternal sunshine of a spotless dream home. Getting stuck in traffic on the way to work is no longer the most boring way to spend your morning. The view from your car window provides an array of marketing gimmicks on billboards. Inevitably, weeks after you’ve been driving past the same signs, there comes a point when you actually want to live in that fancy apartment that’s named after a sunny North American city. Slowly, but surely, your bucket list has gotten a little longer and your dreams fancier.

An evening television viewing is now interrupted with strategically timed advertisements of bright open-planned condos. Fantasy homes are, today, made of so much more than just happy families. Doddamane is now synonymous with “big house” rather than “big family”. Houses tend to resemble high-end tourist resorts, rather than homes. Curios and artefacts bought by an interior designer have replaced collections of memories from family trips around the country. It seems more important that your house is featured in an interior design magazine than if you can spend your morning reading on your sofa without a sprained back. From where you want your home to be to how big and decorative its interiors need to look, planning for your dream house is all about shedding big bucks that you don’t already have and burning your empty pockets!

So much has changed in the decades since we opened up our economy, and our definition of home seems to change with each new high-rise apartment building that comes up in the city.  No longer are homes large rambling houses filled with people, third cousins and great aunts, and kitchens that produced endless meals.  No longer do rooms echo with children’s laughter and the odd family feud thrown in for good measure.  Being home was that indescribable feeling you got when you stepped off that long-distance train to see your family frantically searching the crowds for your face; no matter that your home was a good two hours away from city center and your home was not in the most upmarket area of the city.

All it takes are a few pointers to keep your home from turning into just another chic address:

* Too many footsteps don’t really mess up the karma in your house. Muddy footprints and stray crayon marks that have gone unnoticed under sofa cushions, all make for a normal home.  Make sure your home is child-proof and you don’t have ornamental crystal on your center table that your happy pet’s tail could knock off.  Metal edging on tables looks fantastic, but from experience, tend to split a child’s chin open if she falls by mistake.

* Too many memories don’t clutter the room. Pristine white or lace upholstery and linen may look amazing, but if you think you might get upset when your favourite nephew’s colouring accidentally moves from his book onto the tablecloth, avoid putting it out. Set out memories and not just impersonal objects and artworks that really mean nothing to you. Start collections on family trips that tell stories of their own and make for excellent conversation pieces on where they were acquired.

* While having an elaborate home-delivered meal is the easy way of working at a family dinner, half the fun is in the cooking itself. Much like our aunts used to do when wedding food was cooked at home, shredding kilos of green peas at the dining table (the only area in the house where the latest gossip was always discussed). Cooking has a homely feeling like no other activity. Make the most of cooking together, by bonding with family and relatives.

For a fact, it’s really only royalty who live in castles, despite the fact your apartment is named after one. Forget about what your house looks like on the outside, it’s the home we make inside that counts. Every home has its own memories, and it’s us who makes them. Always remember that if the grass looks greener on the other side, chances are they have an excellent gardener! As the band Lady Antebellum so aptly put it, “Mama said home is where the heart is when I left home.. And then I realize that there’s something mama always knew, love is what I really left to find.” You won’t find home in a mere chic address. Home is where the heart is.

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