This is the response I get, when every once in while, I express my desire to go back to India. After all, I have completed 17 years in this wonderful country called Oman and am almost a part of the landscape as any other, except for the niggling excuse of not knowing Arabic. I use ‘dear’ and ‘darling’ liberally and swear by Almarai milk and Al Rawabi laban. I meet people I know everywhere I go as anonymity is not an option here. I have many good Omani friends who have taught me to say ‘khalli valli’ with pride.
So according to my friends here and also in India, ghar vapsi is not an option for me. I am too idealistic for India, they argue! “You’ll end up leading morchas just because the bank teller didn’t respond to you or your house help took 10 days off in a month and that Vodafone doesn’t work in your village.”
Okay, so idealism will not work. But the beautiful scenery definitely will, I counter, conjuring visions of me enjoying a steaming cup of filter coffee on the open balcony. “Haven’t you heard of mosquitoes, my friend, the special Kerala types,” another friend lovingly reminds me as I throw the imaginary well-entrenched scene out of the said balcony.
“I shall travel to far-flung places and discover India with a backpack for company,” I say and this elicits the loudest laugh. “Ha ha. Did you know a round trip from Cochin to Delhi costs Rs.20,000 and more? You can travel to Muscat and back and to another country with the same amount. And if you are planning on going by train, let me wish you good luck for just logging onto IRCTC.”
So will there be no ‘ghar vapsi’ for me, I ask, with a slight trepidation in my voice. “Buddhu,” my friend says, “Haven’t you realised yet? Home is where the heart is!”