There is nowhere quite like home, or is there?
After returning from six months of travel in Europe, friends and family were surprised to be told that I hadn’t missed home all that much while gone. Admittedly, the constant moving and changing from one place to the next had pretty much kept me exhausted with having no time left for reminiscence. Additionally, endless stimulation and excitement that ensued from the day-to-day adventures had also helped me to stay strongly rooted in each present moment.
I traveled alone, but I never felt lonely. With everywhere that I ended up going, I had been delighted to find myself both at home, and at ease.
Have you ever perceived a nagging tinge of void within? A subtle inner awareness of incompletion and a repeated craving for greater connectedness?
Since an early age, I had been subconsciously and unknowingly yearning and searching for that special union of communion and comradeship. That vague recognition of belonging, and a place that gives me the feeling of home.
Where is home?
Slowly and gradually, with difficulty, I had come to realise that home, and consequently what I have been seeking, is not found in a physical location. All this time, I had been asking the wrong question. It is not so much of where home is, but what it is.
It is as small as a warmly cooked meal, to as big as a cosy shelter. It is simple gestures of kindness, and it is compassionate smiles of encouragement. Home is where the people are. Home is where the heart is.
Socialising and thereby meeting new people as we know it gives a sense of novelty. It is an intrinsic and inseparable part of any travel experience. Nonetheless, in order to recharge and rejuvenate along the journey, it is also important to honour those occasional needs for downtime. Prior to embarking on the trip, I alternated reluctantly between choosing hotels or hostels for accommodation. It was incidentally upon a friend’s recommendation, I had inadvertently stumbled across Airbnb.
In its simplicity, Airbnb is a website, an online community that facilitates the matching of demand and supply in accommodation booking. Demand is generated by those that are in the hunt for affordable and comfortable travel accommodation. More often than not, by those who possess a taste for more niche, intimate and diverse experiences. Supply, predictably on the other hand, is provided by those who are interested in listing their own houses as holiday or vacation home rentals. There may be some that use it primarily for financial gain, however more often than not, these people also share a passion for learning foreign cultures as well as divulging their own.
Airbnb has been used extensively on my recent travels. After looking past the name for being misleadingly suggestible, (your stay does not automatically guarantee a breakfast in the next day morning) I have found it to be invaluable. It has bestowed many opportunities of lively social exchanges and deepened cultural appreciation. As a result, many exciting new connections were formed, and in some cases, lasting friendships.
Airbnb or not, remarkably in several instances of where immediate connections were made, it always evoked spontaneously enigmatic likings of one another. This somewhat defies the presumption of time being an indicator of one’s true character, and of it being a prerequisite for friendship building. Within minutes, we would hit it off and start chattering away like long lost old friends. From within and from without, I reached the knowing that these were people whom I was meant to meet. And there I was.
It is the experiences, and the people who help to create those experiences, that make travelling all the more special and worthwhile. I pondered upon this, and suddenly relayed to a particular slogan associated with one of the MasterCard priceless campaigns:
A family that discovers that the greatest thing in any home is love.
Home theatre system and a comfortable easy chair: Dhs. 22,900
Two designer children’s beds: Dhs. 8,000
12-seater dining table: Dhs. 15,400
Knowing that love is what really fills your home: priceless
I had never felt lonely on my travels because I was already home. I had been welcomed into many homes with open arms, filled with love. Indeed, priceless.