A Playlist named Home

The whir of my dad’s car pulling into the driveway at the end of a long day. Gales of laughter around the dinner table. The renderings of Kishore Kumar singing in the background. The annoyingly shrill cries of the hordes of peacocks parading around town. The soft tap-tap of a tennis ball hitting the walls, interspersed with thwacks as it is caught by my brother’s ready hands. The drone of the water cooler as it fights to beat the summer heat. The hum of the washing machine. The tinkling sound of my mother’s laugh, warm and delighted.

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Seven thousand, six hundred, and forty five miles. Here, in my NYC apartment, I am approximately seven thousand, six hundred, and forty five miles away from home. So very far away – more than twelve thousand kilometers,  a whopping 9.5 hour difference in time zones, and over sixty six hundred nautical miles. It’s a long way to home by any means of (feasible!) transport. I put on my headphones, close my eyes and listen …

The whir of my dad’s car pulling into the driveway at the end of a long day. Gales of laughter around the dinner table. The renderings of Kishore Kumar singing in the background. The annoyingly shrill cries of the hordes of peacocks parading around town. The soft tap-tap of a tennis ball hitting the walls, interspersed with thwacks as it is caught by my brother’s ready hands. The drone of the water cooler as it fights to beat the summer heat. The hum of the washing machine. The tinkling sound of my mother’s laugh, warm and delighted. The snip of the secateurs as the rose bushes in the garden are trimmed. The cheerful babble of school children on their way home. The characteristic jangle of the landline telephone. My mother’s voice, so like mine, talking to a friend. The static-y old Bollywood music trilling out of the radio in the kitchen. The piercing whistle of the pressure cooker. The rhythmic creak of the canopy swing set in the garden. The soft click of the front gate signaling my parents’ return from their evening walk, sending my brother and I scurrying over to more respectable activities. The jarringly loud flap-flap of a peacock’s wings as it flies up a few feet to rest upon the leaves of the bottle palm tree in my front yard – the peacock with two left tail feathers slightly crooked, who has made our garden his home, and now co-exists with us in not-so-peaceful harmony.

Back in my NYC apartment, I close my eyes and listen to all these sounds – these discordant, unrelated sounds, which somehow all come together seamlessly and blend into nostalgic melody: the soundtrack to what I call Home. And as my melody plays on, those seven thousand, six hundred and forty five miles steadily fade away into nothingness, and in a blink of an eye, I am home.

Re-re-reading!

Reading a new book is like a roller coaster ride – the swoops and thrills, the fluttering in the stomach, the screaming, the thumping hearts, and the sheer giddiness of it all. Reading a new book is a joy, an exploration, a discovery. You don’t know what’s next, and what it’ll be like, but as long as it’s there, you’re along for the ride, and lovin’ every moment of it.

Re-reading a book, by contrast, might sound utterly boring. Where’s the newness, you’ll ask. Where’s the excitement? You already know what’s going to happen, where’s the suspense?! All I can say is, yes, re-reading is not a roller coaster ride. Re-reading a favorite story is like a walk in your neighbourhood park. You know where exactly the see-saw is, you know the kids who play there every evening, their carefree laughter and games. You know the mothers who bring their adorable babies in prams, the best spot to watch the sun set. Yes, there’s no adrenaline rush here. But you still go to the park once in a while, to relax, to unwind … just because it’s old and familiar.

So while reading something for a very first time is an experience in itself, it’s nice to re-read … and then re-re-read … go back to what is predictable and known, go back to something warm and comfortable. It’s like going back home and being hugged by your mom. Like drinking warm milk on a cold winter night. Like finding an old sweater in the attic, the one which you used to wear all the time a few years ago, and putting it on again, and even though it’s a little too snug now, it feels soft and warm and so comforting.

And therein lies my justification for reading my favorite books over and over again. 🙂