Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home - what's that?

Since I travel a lot and speak English with a funny accent people often ask me where do I come from. That's easy to say, I was born in Hungary and currently own a HU passport. But when they say "oh, so your home is Hungary" I never know how to reply...

Guess there are many who have difficulty answering this question. The 3 main groups of people I met over the years:
  1. Third Culture Kids (TCK) who are born in country A to parents from country A and/or country B and they grow up and live in country C - often after growing up they end up living in country D, kind of like a loose-loose situation me thinks.
  2. Marriages over borders that result in one party giving up their own country to learn to live in the spouse's home environment.
  3. Expatriots who temporarily or long term got relocated to another part of the world.
"Home is a diffuse concept not necessarily linked to any particular zip code" - I read it once in a flight magazine (how appropriate) and I couldn't agree more. I think it's worth spending a moment on pondering these words...

When I lived on m/v Doulos my home was a 130 m long floating vessel and every 2-3 weeks the view from my porthole changed. I didn't have a permanent address or a local phone number. My neighbors were my cabin mates (from 3 different continents), my next door neighbors were literally from all over the world. We all had our own language, cultural heritage, social background, family history. The only thing that linked us together* was the fact that we all communicated in a common language - broken English. (yes, even the native English speakers were complaining that after several months on board their language skills worsened.) :)

"Change is the only constant thing in my life" - was our motto on board. It's a great concept that required lots of adjustments, but for Global Nomads like me, it was pure heaven. Guess in this sense I am going back to my old roots, the Hun people used to travel a lot (hence the name, Hungarian)

"Most people cannot pronounce even my first name" - yes, we touched base on that already. The only 2 nations who have no difficulty whatsoever are the Finns and... incredible as it sounds, the Indians. We share a lot with the Finnish people, we are taught in school that the two nations are related, but I guess it's just easy to connect the two odd nations in Europe. As for the Indians, apparently they also have a female first name spelled Rekha, my Indian friends always tease me that I might be one of them. Actually my mother chose this name, because it's a very old, traditional Hungarian name. In fact, Réka was the wife of Attila, the Hun.

"Home is not where you live but where you are understood" - darn, it means I am homeless. :)
It's a very nice, I even daresay romantic idea and as such, a bit Utopian. There are many Permanent Travelers out there and I cannot help but think of an already classic movie Up in the air (see trailer here) where George Clooney's character says at the airport: "Make no mistake. We all die alone". Though one to digest, nevertheless he is right spot on. The short time we have on Earth we might spend with traveling and switching "homes", but there should be a time when you measure the weight of h-o-m-e.

I think I haven't reached that point yet, but I must say I often ponder on homesickness. Even though I am not too attached to Hungary any more and I am quite comfortable with the idea of living somewhere else, from time to time I fly back there and see it with the shiny eyes of a foreigner and a bittersweet smile of a true Hungarian...

If you haven't been there, you should definitely go and visit some day. It's quite pretty. For now here are 2 videos about Hungary. The first one is a slide show with a famous HU band as background music. The second one shows some of the inventions the world received from Hungarians. Enjoy!

* of course we had many other things in common, but in the context of defining home, language was our common link.

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