Where is Home?

Where is Home By Romita Bulchandani (Photo credit: Jhonathan Rodriguezo)

The answer to this question has changed a lot for me over the years. I’m a Cross Cultural Kid (CCK), as I grew up in a place that was not my parents’ homeland. My parents were born and raised in India. They migrated to the United States in the late 1970s and built a community in the state of North Carolina.

We had a huge family — about 129 close immediate relatives. Family members came one by one to our house. We were their starting point as they prepared to begin their new lives in the Americas.

(Image via Pixabay)
Home (Image by 0fjd125gk87 from Pixabay)

So, what exactly is home? I guess the technical answer is North Carolina because that’s where I was born. However, this answer never sat well with me.

Is home physical or spiritual? Is it a feeling? Is it just the location on your birth certificate? Growing up, I wrestled with all these questions. I also grew up with the assumption that everyone has a home or should have one. However, my circumstances didn’t make it that black and white for me. 

Today I believe a home is physical and spiritual and can be felt by the heart. My journey with this question has given me gifts of wisdom that shaped my current beliefs. Allow me to explain.



Home is physical

At the age of 5, I started kindergarten. However, my English wasn’t very good. The primary language in my house was Sindhi or Hindi. At home we primarily watched TV Asia, Bollywood movies and Indian TV. Most of the content was in Hindi (the national language of India), but in the house, everyone spoke Sindhi, the language of our Sindh community.

I didn’t speak much English at home, even though I was born and raised in North Carolina. Reading and writing were hard for me because I didn’t know the foundation of the English language as well as the other kids in my class.

In elementary school, kids would ask me, “Where are you from?” I would respond with “India.” Then the follow-up question would be, “When did you move here?” This question confused me because I never lived in India, so I never moved. This made my answer feel complicated. As a kid, the questions felt overwhelming.

My house growing up was a fusion of Bollywood movies, Indian traditions/rituals, daily authentic Indian food and rich Indian culture. Everything physically looked and felt like India at home. Why would I not be from India?

India (Image by Pavan Gupta via Unsplash)
Photo by pavan gupta on Unsplash

Outside my house, I would enter a small rural farm town with a rich southern culture. My parents didn’t assimilate into the Southern U.S. lifestyle. All their friends were Indian. We went to dinners and social gatherings, all within the Indian community. When we went out, we would dress in traditional Indian attire. 

Although we live in the U.S., we are Indian, and to my family, our home will always be India

Every summer, my parents would send my brother and me off to a different relative’s house to live. The summers took us to New York, California, Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee and overseas. Summertime is when we would explore the world. Like most of our school friends, we never went to summer camps or summer school. Traveling so young made us adaptable to other households and cultures. We learned how to become chameleons and physically adapt to diverse environments.

By the time I was 18, I was considered well-traveled. My travels took me to places like London, Spain, Hong Kong, India, Canada and Singapore. Each relative’s home we traveled to, no matter what country, felt like India. Keeping our rich Indian traditions alive was the family’s mission.

Seeing our rich Indian culture so intact in places all around the world made it feel like India had wings and was settling anywhere there was an opportunity for growth. 

Then came high school, and I desperately wanted to fit in. My so-called home felt like holding a bright yellow flag saying, “I’m different.”

In my teenage years, being different wasn’t “cool.” Being well-traveled and educated on numerous cultures worldwide didn’t feel like an advantage. I was in a sea of middle-class, blue-collar and primarily white Southerners from the U.S. Most didn’t have a passport or travel past South Carolina or Georgia.

Seeing our rich Indian culture so intact in places all around the world made it feel like India had wings and was settling anywhere there was an opportunity for growth. 

Growing up, I was physically immersed in two extremes, Indian and Southern U.S.

Home is feeling

Home became more of a feeling when I moved to Orlando, Fla. I landed a job with a cool guy named Mickey Mouse, who owned a magical place called Walt Disney World Resort.

I was in my 20s working for The Walt Disney Company, and immersed with many Third Culture Kids (TCKs) and CCKs just like me. Except now, we all lived in Florida and worked for The Mouse. For the first time, it FELT like home. I had never had a feeling of home before. All this time, I based my definition of home on the physical aspects.

Orlando to this day, has a special place in my heart because of the connections I made there.

In my 30s, I moved to Washington, D.C., capital of the U.S.! That gave me a whole different perspective of the country’s rich history. My feelings of home deepened, and I broadened my definition of home to the U.S. and India.

By this time in my life, I decided that home was both a feeling and physical. India is my roots, and the U.S. is where I evolved. Both are part of me, and both are home. 


A lot of decorative cozy pillows and the inscription HOME

In 2017, my mom lost her battle with cancer. Her passing shook me to my core. Her death became the catalyst that set me on a spiritual adventure to discover who I am.

My mom was given two to six months to live after her diagnosis. She essentially was waiting to die, and as she waited, she began reflecting on her 67 years of life. We talked a lot about life, and I learned a lot about her life from a different perspective.

“I’m finally going home,” my mom said to me.

“What does that mean?” I asked. “You are home.”

She explained that home was not a physical place or a feeling. It’s much bigger than that. It’s a place that words cannot describe.  

Well, this puts a whole new spin on the definition of home. Just when I thought I had found home, my mom changed its entire meaning. 

Home was not a physical place or a feeling. It’s much bigger than that.

Before my mom passed, she left me with lots of wisdom, thoughts and new perspectives. This newfound wisdom began a spiritual adventure that I am still unfolding.

Today, when I’m asked, “Where are you from” or “Where’s home,” it gives me pause because a part of me is still looking for home. I don’t identify with the U.S. or India. However, they are a part of me and will always be my heritage.

Here’s what I do know: Home lives within me. It’s a magical, powerful energy that flows through me. In the physical, I consider myself happily homeless and a nomad. The vibrations go up and down as I move from place to place. I pay close attention to the vibes I get.

There are countries that I have a strong, energetic connection with and areas that drain me. I’m deeply in tune to the inner voice inside me. Some call it an inner knowing.

Home lives within me. It’s a magical, powerful energy that flows through me.

Home is spiritual to me. Spirituality combines the earth, fire, air, water and the universe. It is everywhere and nowhere. 

Where is home for you?

What does home do for you? 

How do you define home?

The beauty is that the answer will always be different from person to person, and that is OK. All that matters is you know what home is and where to find it.

By Romita Bulchandani

Home (Image via Pixabay)
Home (Image by psychofladoodle from Pixabay)
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