On Moving Homes: Notes on Departure

Moving out of a home could be a profound experience.


I’m moving out of the house I’ve lived in for the last two months. As I took my ‘ceremonial last walk’ around the place, and indefinitely procrastinated on packing my stuff, the following thoughts appeared on my mind. 

Moving out of a Home and Nearing End of Life

When you’ve got only a few more moments at a place, your perception of the place heightens. You start to notice and appreciate little things. Many of these, you may notice for the first time. And what appeared mundane earlier — the little girl in the park, the next door grandmother— appear very special now.

As you leave the place, it seems more beautiful than you thought it was.

Is it not much like life? Don’t you live more deliberately and with more awareness, when you finally realize that you’ve got only a limited time on this planet?

Being Ungrateful to the Shoe Shelf

Quite strangely, as I opened the door of my shoe shelf this morning, I was clouded by emotions. That morning, I had developed some feelings for this little space that held my shoes.

Many a morning I’ve pulled open this same door to take my shoes out. But never did I stay on a little longer to appreciate this space. I never appreciated it for holding my shoes safely.

This feeling spread to many other little spaces I accessed frequently at my home — the placed where I stored my kettle and coffee, the space where I had my meal and did my reading.

Until today I never spared a thought to these little spaces that made my life better. How ungrateful have I been!

Leaving a Little Bit of Myself Back

The room or home itself has a life of its own. It is going to have new people occupying its spaces. Could there be an emotional link between me, the person who will occupy this space after me, and the person who had occupied this space before me?

In the Indian film Dhobi Ghat, Arun (Aamir Khan) finds a left-behind videotape of the previous tenant in the house that he just moved into. He starts to identify with the lady in the video, who was also the previous occupier of the house, and begins to imagine the house through the eyes of the lady.

Should we leave back something for the people who will occupy these spaces after us? A book, or a strange item that will intrigue the occupant. A welcome note hidden somewhere or a recommendation on something cool to do in the city.

You Never Leave as you Came

During the time I’ve been here, I’ve added new thoughts to myself. I’ve gained new perspectives. To start anything new is difficult. It is the nurturing that I experienced in this place that gave me push to start these new things, despite inertia. Here, at this place, I’ve started at least three new things that add value to my life.

In this home, I’ve grown.

Now, when I’m leaving, I’m different from the one who entered it. I’m slightly a better version of myself. And this home has helped me become that. I leave this place with a clearer vision and purpose.

Farewell.

An Hour at the Mosque: A Ramzan Diary

Slices of life-affirming experiences during the breaking of fast at one of India’s largest mosques


The Date Seller and the Girl in a Hijab

As she heard the call from the mosque, the young girl — in a loose blue salwar and a black hijab, with a sweet joy on her face that’d belie that the owner of the face had been on fast for almost twenty-seven hours — wished to buy a few dates to break her fast. The old date seller with a dervish-like demeanor refused her money. It was a beautiful moment of humanity, when the girl, embarrassed and blushing, tried to return all but one date, while the date seller insisted that she keep it.

Faith, Family, Food

The courtyard plotted with large colorful mats. Women and men rested on their knees, with prayers on their lips and piety on their faces. Little boys ran through the human maze, the young mother tended to her baby, and the teen girls clicked selfies. Families perched around platters of watermelons, mangoes and bananas, chickpea salads, batter-fried vegetables, meat dishes, and bottles of water. The fragrance of attar, the aroma of well-cooked meat, and the sweet smell of summer fruits co-mingled under the canopy of faith and the joy of companionship.

Under the Ramzan Moon

Under the Ramzan moon, the emotions and the expressions of every man, woman, child were at their purest. Those were among the most sincere smiles, banters, and actions I’ve witnessed.

A Thousand Prayers

I did not pray. But amidst the thousand prayers around me, I experienced the bliss and benevolence of the spiritually charged moment.

Strangely, I felt at home among a thousand strangers.

Epilogue: Religion, Civilization, and Human Experience

It is here, among these thousands of people — congregated to break the fast, commune and partake in a meal — that I find my greatest faith in human civilization.

Isn’t this a representative moment of civilization? Isn’t this among the most life-affirming moments? Isn’t this among the grandest ideas that we humans have ever known? Wouldn’t it be a loss to our human experience, if one day we are to lose these traditions without a sufficient replacement?

With these thoughts on religious traditions and experience, I walked towards the northern gate of the mosque, profoundly grateful for the higher experience while still trying to make sense of it all.