Why I'm perfectly content staying in

I like homing in. I’m really happy to be pottering around, doing nothing, taking a break from doing nothing and trying to cook (and then giving up to simply order in), marvelling at how time goes by (mornings turn to evenings in the blink of an eye)

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Sushmita Bose

Published: Thu 27 Jan 2022, 11:38 PM

I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t like travelling — or maintaining a log of how many places I’ve managed to tick off my bucket list. On the rare occasions when I do travel, where I stay is of far greater import than the larger area surrounding it. I’ll never get excited at the prospect of “shacking” it up on a beach in Goa or spending a few days in a tent on an Andes mountain trail — to get a feel of authenticity. Give me a nice hotel, thank you very much. In fact, I’ll be perfectly content staying in, instead of exclaiming at the sights and sounds outside (the only exception I’ll possibly make is for a Thomas Hardy-esque countryside-type setting, but even here I’d like to settle into a rustic-looking cottage with full amenities — no leaky roof from which the famed English rain seeps in to give me a taste of reality).

And, therefore, it’s no surprise that where I live, i.e., my home, matters a great deal more than in which area — or in which city — I stay. I like homing in. I’m really happy to be pottering around, doing nothing, taking a break from doing nothing and trying to cook (and then giving up to simply order in), marvelling at how time goes by (mornings turn to evenings in the blink of an eye), and, at times, wondering why I am not experiencing even a tiny, teeny twinge of guilt that I am being totally and aimlessly domesticated.

I have friends who cannot bear to be at home — for long stretches. They find it stifling beyond a point, unhealthy even. I don’t. I wonder if there’s something wrong with me.

And I don’t get it when others offer me sympathetic looks that seem to convey, “Oh poor you, don’t you have enough of a life, why aren’t you out?” I stop short of saying there have been weekends, and there have been weekends, when I’ve fabricated stories about not being “available” to go out. For a brunch or a matinee show or a visit to the art gallery (I think I consciously try and frame socialising plans on weekdays, when I’m already out and about, and I don’t have to make an effort to leave the house in an attempt to “go out” — whereas on weekends and holidays I know I’d have to make an effort).

My father usually asks me on Friday nights (and earlier, before the UAE weekend changed its format, he’d ask on Thursday nights): “So, it’s the weekend — what are your plans?” I always concoct a heady slew of activities for his benefit: I know if I say, “I want to be at home” or “I will be at home”, he’ll give me a lecture on an imminent depressive state engulfing me.

When Covid happened, I took to new-age notions like work from home rather easily. Or replacing the 10,000-step walkathon in the neighbouring park with Leslie Sansone’s “brisk” home walks in front of the telly. Or having to put on hold congregations of like-minded souls at dinner parties at home and settling in for solitary splendor for months on end. Unlike a lot of folks who took to the home schedule reluctantly and tentatively — and struggled wildly with the new-normal regimen — I took to it like a fish takes to water.

I may have had the epiphany earlier on in life, at a time when I lived in a small apartment on the eastern fringes of a city (Calcutta, aka, Kolkata) I used to call home once upon a time. I was very proud of “my place”, I had done it up with leftover furniture from my grandparents’ house. The only object I could afford to buy at that point was a portable floor lamp that I lugged around wherever I parked myself in the apartment (including the kitchen). One rained-out late afternoon, me and a couple of friends from work left office early to assemble at my place where we spent the evening listening to old Hindi film songs and eating biryani out of paper plates. As the incandescent light from the sole floor lamp shone down on us, one of my friends shushed us down from our noisy chatter so we could listen to the sound of the falling rain. Then he looked at me, very hard I thought, and asked, “How can you bear to leave this place and come to office every day?”


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