India has been in lock-down for three months now. Whether or not we are at home; we’ve all been confronted with the idea of it. This could mean different things for different people; it might come with comfort, a nostalgic longing, a reminder of what doesn’t exist, a place that seems too far away or a place we’re waiting to get out of. The confined space during these times could mean safety for some, but distress and anxiety for others. ‘Home’ as always, and especially during these times comes with a complexity of emotions and experiences.
In this post we bring to you four voices of practitioners of five classical Indian dance forms across generations and continents as they respond to questions about identity and notions of home. Amrita Lahiri speaks of feeling a sense of home in a place she didn’t grow up in; Ileana Citaristi describes her home as a collation of memories that merge into her present; Vidhya Subramaniam compares her experience of ‘home’ to that of a pupa and butterfly and Gauri Sharma Tripati talks about how her ‘home’ gave her the strength to help others find theirs.
"Having set up home in several countries, 'home' has become more a practical concept rather than a sentimental one. However, there is something that draws me inexplicably towards India, even though I grew up in USA and had the option to live there as an adult too. We have recently made a choice to leave the clean, convenient efficiency of Singapore to set up home in Mumbai. Perhaps it is because India is where my ancestors are from? Is it because it is the land from which the dance and music that I love originated? It is not the land of my childhood memories (which were entirely in Washington, D.C.), and yet it feels like home. Loving a land and feeling at 'home' is a bit like love- you cannot explain it rationally! I also feel that one cannot love Indian dance without loving India- in all its magnitude, chaos, contradictions, diversity, filth, philosophy, history..."
"Home'' for me is not synonymous with
‘comfort zone’ and ‘motherland’ does not necessarily mean ‘birthplace. Patriotism does not necessarily translate to nationalism either. Home is an immense love towards a sense of belonging. The present is my home , and the present is made up of all the memories and experiences of the past without interruption so the ‘many homes’ merge into one."
"Home for me is now a fluid concept. Spending half the year in India and half in the US, the way I walk, talk, dress, drive, shop, eat, everything changes depending on where I am. While it feels a little schizophrenic at times, It also feels like I have the best of both worlds. Dance is the common denominator to both these worlds, so I could say my idea of home is where my dance is at a given point of time. Like a pupa in its chrysalis, I incubate and ideate in the US where my internal noise is loud in the presence of quiet all around. Like a butterfly I come alive in Chennai where my creative juices flow the most amidst the sweat and the external noise which drowns out my internal noise. The experience of straddling two homes could be reduced to the act of driving. While there the driving experience is calm and almost boring and while here I feel like I'm playing a video game for you don't know what is going to come out of where on the Indian roads. But I keep putting the indicator on instead of the wipers and vice versa. I'm yet to find a balance between what I'm indicating to myself and what I'm wiping off!" Gauri Sharma "Home has been where my dance is. When I took a leap of faith and moved out from India, 'home' became about giving a home to others who wanted to connect. So when I landed up in the UK, everyone said it was drab and it rained, but I loved the monsoon. I made it home. And I did that with the strength that I cultivated from my home in India, the home that my mother and guru created for me. I used the things that built me to build more outside the home I grew up in, and in that process I rediscovered my dance."
"Home has been where my dance is. When I took a leap of faith and moved out from India, 'home' became about giving a home to others who wanted to connect. So when I landed up in the UK, everyone said it was drab and it rained, but I loved the monsoon. I made it home. And I did that with the strength that I cultivated from my home in India, the home that my mother and guru created for me. I used the things that built me to build more outside the home I grew up in, and in that process I rediscovered my dance."
-Gauri Sharma Tripathi
This was a part of “Cross Cultural Conversations” hosted by the beej garage in the Ankh studio on November 2019. To watch the entire conversation click here.
What does 'home' mean for you? Is it a place, person, your practice, or a feeling? Or are you still trying to figure it out? We would love to hear about your explorations of 'home' in the comment section below.