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Home (n): A Sense of freedom and belonging

In the last four years, I’ve been lucky to’ve had chances to see more places than I had in the preceding 22 years. 

While I definitely don’t (and considering how much luggage I pack, can’t) call myself a backpacker, I’ve tried to stay at as many hostels as I could.

One thing common across all these hostels was the space where travellers left their notes or art.

Zostel Gokarna has a huge blackboard and Mochilero Ostello in Pelling has a small one. Zostel Panchgani has soft boards while Zostel Chikul, Zostel Manali and Zostel Kaza have entire walls, giving anyone the liberty to write/paint their notes anywhere they want. 

All these messages from people across the world- mentioning the food they liked, doggos they petted, trails they trekked, board games they played and jamming sessions they vibed to. 

Most importantly- people they met as strangers but found friends inand most cutely- pacts made to meet again. 

Entire spaces filled with people wanting to leave a mark to thank the place for the memoriesFor the laughter shared and stories swapped. 

But they’re not just mere thank yous. 

These notes left behind tell the next person- Hey hi, relax, this is home

We made a home out of this, for the time we were here. And you can too. Take it in. 

Vibrant wall art.

Cozy nooks in common areas.

Conversations in corridors and stairways.

Planning things to do around or just chilling in the open while someone (there’s always someone) plays the guitar and others sing along. 

Finding these homes, to feel at home, is neither a conscious activity nor a decision. 

Essentially, I think, it’s the realisation of a particular flavour of freedom, when the vibe around you matches yours.

And this combination of simultaneous freedom and belonging helps us give ourselves the liberty to feel at home. 

Reading the notes-left-behind about the umpteen versions of homely moments- all in the same spaces, makes me feel like a part of I’m not sure what, but some thing?

So much gratitude for so much to cherish, but, who are we actually supposed to thank, though?

Thanking only the hostel organisation doesn’t do it justice. Nuh-uh. 

Who can you thank when the world arranges itself to give you something so uniquely beautiful. Moments of being at home while you’re figuring out the wheres and hows of a new place

Is this… the much acclaimed… serendipity?

Who do you thank for that? 

I guess there isn’t any perfectly correct party to direct our thanks towards. 

But nevertheless, 

these are the homes we thank,

for everything that we found in us

and for everyone who gave us a little something from themselves,



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About the Author

Akhila Joshi

Akhila Joshi

Hey there :) Calling myself a writer seems a little too good to be true, so I just say: I write. I also like exploring new places and music when I'm not curled up reading a book or binge-watching.