Project H:  “Home is where the  – wait, what?”

Sorry for the shaky panorama, but my room is where I spend the most time at home.

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Home. It’s kind of a loaded word for me. Of course, I have a physical home in the United States – Virginia specifically, although I’m originally from Ohio – but sometimes it doesn’t feel like home. For me, home is a place where I can be myself and I have a support system. I feel most at home either at school or when I’m reading.  I’ll start with what school means to me.

School has always been the one place where I am on a level playing field with my peers.  I’m not much for extracurricular activities because I have cerebral palsy, which basically means I can’t walk by myself.  The exceptions to this are high school marching band – I was a percussionist – and my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega.

School has always been like a second home to me because my teachers – most of whom I have been fortunate enough to have – are able to see past my physical shortcomings.  They see my potential and believe in me, even when I might not believe in myself.  And of course, I can’t count out my friends either.  Throughout college, my random group of awesome friends has been my support system through thick and thin.

Books have also been a sort of home for me.  I’ve always loved to read anything I can get my hands on, but there are some books that are special to me.  These stay with me because the stories are so good that the characters become like family.  No, seriously, they almost make up for my lack of biological siblings.  The best books are ones where I can see myself in the story.

Another way books are a support system is they allow me to escape my reality – if only for a little while.  I can forget all the crap I’m dealing with in my own life and focus on someone else’s problems.

I may not have the most conventional ideas of home, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

You can check out my own blog here.

Project H – Ritu’s Way!

Thank you, Dr C, for inviting us to share our ‘homes’ with your Project H this month!

Now, when you say home, there are a few possibilities… could it be my virtual home, my blog, that you want to know about? Or is it where I actually live?

I shall share some aspects of both so the two main bases are covered!

I am originally from Birmingham, in the UK. A Brummie born and bred. But before that, my ancestry takes me back to Kenya, where my parents were both born, and beyond them, to the North of India, in the Punjab, where my ancestors came from.

So, a British Kenyan Indian!

But you don’t want to know that! I didn’t live in either of those places!

My home for the last 15 years has been in Gravesend, Kent. I live in the Garden of England. But it is a town, so there isn’t as much greenery as you’d expect. Travel ten minutes down the road, and the villages show you that ‘English Country Garden’ feel!

Still, Gravesend was not going to be beaten by being a town, so the local council introduced an initiative, called Gravesham in Bloom, and we have amazing flower displays created around the town, in boats, and tyres, of all things! There is also an urban knitters group who knit and decorate things, like lamp posts and trees!

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Even the construction companies are in on the beautificating the area thing!

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They decorate their hoarding with painted tyres and flower arrangements!

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The Queen is also in residence at the moment! There was a school competition where schools were asked to create commemorative gardens within their schools to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday this year. The picture above shows my School’s ‘Queen’. And our garden actually won!

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These tyre sculptures are among a few that have popped up around the town too!

What else can I tell you about Gravesend? We have the real burial place of Pocahontas here too! Yes, she was real!

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Pocahontas 1595 – March 1617

We also have one of the largest Sikh temples, Gurdwara, in Europe here, and this is a view of it from my house. We live a stone’s throw away!

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And here is my garden… a haven in the summer!

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There is so much more to say about Gravesend, but I’ll leave it there for now!

And as for the place I like to call my virtual home, my blog, But I Smile Anyway.

A mixture of creativity, poetry, fiction, and photography, coupled with my thoughts, and memories. It is an ecclectic mix for sure!

Pop over for a virtual cup of tea!

Project H: A Tale Of Two Countries

They say that home is where the heart is. I don’t know who “they” are but “they” seem to be telling us a lot of things that unfiltered could make life confusing. But I digress.

Home is a city in South Africa. In Gauteng province to be exact. This province is the smallest but is the economic hub of the country and the African continent. It also boasts South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria. What do “they” say about dynamite coming in small packages? I digress again…in any event, the photo below shows the area in which I live, south of Johannesburg in a beautiful peri-urban environment.

If you look really carefully, to the right of the photo, you can see the cows crossing the road, herded by a dog and cow-herder, to graze on the other side of the road. This may give you the wrong idea of SA – cows don’t cross the roads all the time and we aren’t dodging elephants and lions on a daily basis. It’s a country like all others in some respects. I’m lucky to live in an area that is so close to nature.

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South Africa (henceforth SA) wasn’t always my home. I was born in Mozambique which was my home for the first 9 years of my life. Political upheaval uprooted our young family and because my Dad had always wanted to live in SA, SA became our new home.

What with learning a new language and somewhat traumatised with the splitting up of my extended family to whom I was close, the foundations of my 9 year old world were shaken to the core. It took me over 20 years to feel that SA was my home. Initially I’d been made to feel an outsider, an immigrant from across the border. It wasn’t nice for a young child to experience that. But it made me stronger and more determined not to allow other people to prescribe to me.

I remember the day, to the moment, that I finally felt that this beautiful rainbow country of all sorts of contrasts was home. My husband, Che and I spent a couple of weeks in Portugal for my brother-in-law’s wedding in 2001. It was winter there, rainy and cold and I was seriously miserable. I don’t like the cold and the wet at the best of times, but even worse than this was not seeing the sun. Living in Africa I have sunlight about 350 out of 365 days of the year. That’s a lot of sunlight, even in the winter.

During those two weeks the feeling that I was “a tourist that could speak the language” began to take hold. Everywhere I went people remarked on my accent, some not kindly. Portuguese, just like English, is spoken differently in different parts of the world. Those of us in SA have a different accent and colloquialisms than those who live in Brazil or Portugal for example. I realised that cultural communities living outside of the country of origin develop their own identity and sets of values like those of the country they’ve adopted.

In 2001, as the wheels of the Boeing 747 touched down at Johannesburg International Airport I began to cry with the overwhelming feeling of belonging to SA and of having come home.

I still have family and friends in Portugal and I’m lucky to be able to visit them. I feel comfortable there. I can do things there that I can’t do in SA, like walk the streets without looking over my shoulder. I enjoy exploring the most beautiful slice of the Iberian Peninsula and immersing myself in the incredible history of that country which goes back thousands of years. I love navigating the narrow roads of old Lisbon, steeped in history and enjoy that our family’s apartment is in one of those narrow roads, shown in the photo below.

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I feel a patriotic fervour when it comes to the Portuguese soccer team and when they won the Euro 2016 on Sunday I jumped up and down, laughed and cried and felt proud to be able to claim a part of that nationality. South African sports are exceptionally well represented internationally and I feel an equally patriotic fervour when they compete internationally.

I feel emotionally proud to live in a country that Nelson Mandela called home and to have been part of those historical elections in 1994 when previously disenfranchised people stood in queues for many hours waiting for their moment to put a cross on a ballot paper for the very first time.

When I visit Portugal I still get comments about my Portuguese accent. In South Africa, sometimes, people notice a slight undertone of an exotic accent to the way I speak English and ask me about it. I choose to ignore the less kind comments and embrace the diversity that make me who I am.

I feel Portuguese. I feel South African. I am both.

Visit my blog Wide Eyed In Wonder.

 

Project H – The Magic Pocket (Michigan)

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Project H, The Magic Pocket

Breakfast at the Paddle Inn set the day up straight with bacon, eggs, hot coffee and a smiling waitress. It was a good place to unfold my county map and search out a place to enter a stream from a backroad. I was anxious for some brook trout fishing away from the hoopla of the Au Sable. The Au Sable is a great river for canoeing and kayaking but for fishing, it generally is as slow as watching snow melt in January. I leave fishing the Au Sable to the tourists if I am serious about catching my limit of trout.

Small stream fishing is not for everyone; it is a tough mosquito ridden journey into brush, chest high nettles and grass, poison ivy, ticks and a host of other hostile elements such as mud, invisible holes, snags, bees, ants and an occasional bear. Beyond those things it is like Alice In Wonderland, a wild world untamed by man and holding the miracle of catching brook trout as orange as the setting sun.

I laid my finger on Big Creek. There are acres and acres of Federal land giving access to this stream to the South of Luzerne, Michigan. It would take a lifetime to get intimate enough to really know her many curves. She wends and winds for miles on end.

Locating some consistently productive trout holes is a fisherman’s quest that in the end will sew his lips tight, in other words, you will have to find them yourself. I have seldom divulged exact locations of where I regularly catch twelve and thirteen inch trout, for when I have betrayed that trust, those fish have found their way into the frying pans of those to whom I shouldn’t have spoken.

Being this was basically a scouting trip, I had little expectation for what I might or might not catch. I just wanted to get my line in the water. Scouting is always a process of elimination with note taking that is either written down in a mental or paper journal. I have a very acute memory so my recording is all done in my cranium. (Pray I don’t go senile or as the old saying goes, I’ll be up shit crick.) The things noted refer to certain sections of stream: too brushy or access fairly easy, too shallow or some deep water, straight with no holes or wending with deep holes, what side of the stream gives the best access to the holes, all things that would either get me back or keep me from ever setting foot in that part of heaven or hell again.

From where I parked the truck, Big Creek looked promising right there at the road as it disappeared into a tangle of alders and tall grasses. It was brushy but not too brushy, the water looked to have a nice flow with some depth that looked promising.

I travel light with a telescoping pole that is over 40 years old matched with a cheap reel that can take some abuse. I have a canvas creel with my hooks, extra line, bait and a bottle of water. The collapsable pole is a huge advantage in navigating through the woods. It doesn’t get caught in limbs or break during frustrating entanglements with blackberry bushes or dense thickets.

Since the water was looking promising right at the road, I settled down in some tall grass a couple of yards from the stream and readied my rod with a small swivel, some leader line and a number eight hook. I baited it with a medium crawler and flicked it delicately into the moving water where the current grabbed it and sent it swirling under the cut bank. I fed out a few feet of line and the crawler was aggressively snatched by a fish that had been waiting patiently for me to arrive.

Some fisherman days are blessed with not having to grunt and grind our way through mud holes or stinging nettles. We don’t have to go to war with mosquitoes and gnats, or dislodge broken sticks from our hair or our ears, we can just stand in the open in one spot and put a limit of nice brookies into the maw of our creel. Hallelujah!

The first fish I hooked and landed was a beauty, almost thirteen inches, then came a tidy eight incher, then two identical twins of about ten. The last one was a bit more testy of my patience with numerable dry casts, but finally after some persistence I felt that welcoming tug as a fish sucked the crawler into its mouth and darted back under the bank. I waited a few seconds until I felt him again and set the hook. I was overjoyed by an aerial dance not that common from a brookie before creeling a beautiful full colored fish coming in at twelve inches.

I stood there and pondered my luck. The air was still cool and the sun had barely opened its eye over the horizon and I had my limit of brook trout for a nice lunch on the back porch. All I had to do was climb up the ditch embankment to my truck, no slogging through the brush for an hour or so from deep in the woods.
My mind noted and marked the spot as magic, and it will always remain so, even if I never happen to pull another trout from that little pocket of water ever again.

From: The City Slickers Guide to the Amish Country, Stories and Poems From Fairview, Michigan.  To be published sometime this year.
by Richard Rensberry, The Grumpy Poet, author of The Wolf Pack Moon and How the Snake Got Its Tail and Colors Talk
www.richardrensberry.com

Project H (Kansas City)

Hello, my name is Angela and I’m from Kansas City, Missouri. I am someone who enjoys art in its various forms. I am someone who relishes in creating and combining words to make readers feel some kind of way. I am a person who gives support to anyone, especially those dabbling in the writing community. Sometimes we can get stagnant and need a little encouragement to keep penning ideas.

My blog contains poetry, some random musings, short stories and a portion of a novella that’s at its time of completion. I began blogging in 2010 though I wasn’t consistent. I ended up deleting all my posts and started over at least twice before pinning down what I really wanted to write about. One thing blogger’s should have is a clear direction where he or she wants to steer their platform. The following year, 2011 was still shaky but I found and set my focus and began posting even when no one was reading. Yes, I write for myself and that’s all well and good but deep down if I’m honest I want people to read my work. I do need a little reassurance every now and then my opinions are worth sharing. So, I’ve been blogging for a total of seven years but active for six.

My normal view while blogging is to keep it simple. I don’t know anyone who enjoys ultra complicated poetry. I want and need my words to be clear and concise. That is my end goal.

Kansas City is known for its barbecue and crime rate. However, what’s not reported is that we help each other out. For some reason it takes common folk to shine a light on that when the police or news outlets are only focused on the negative. About a year ago, there was a community garden planted right here in my neighborhood by black youth who belong to a church. The garden was free for anyone who wanted fresh produce. Now that isn’t something you’d find online. There’s a lot more good that is being done and it’s a shame that a spotlight isn’t put on these kinds of things.

I’m not sure what Kansas City means to me, but I have met some interesting people along the way. Where I live is predominantly black and lately there have been groups of people moving back into the inner city and that makes me proud. Missouri is one of the most racist states in the country, however, now that we are blending, this should help lower distrust and fear. What I can say about Kansas City natives, we are doing better lending a hand when it’s absolutely needed.

I’d like to call South Korea my home one day. It’s normal for me to dive into different cultures. We’ll never know how similar we are until we step out of our comfort zone and give people a chance.

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This is the best way I can share my home with you all. We love our art. We also have Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art that I sometimes go hang out at.

The freedom of opinion means a lot to me, but so does the right to keep my mouth shut. Just because we have a right to do or say something doesn’t mean we should always express it. There is such a thing called responsibility when we injure someone with our words or actions. As a nation I can clearly see most of us take advantage of our freedoms in all the wrong ways. Not everyone will agree with our opinions but we should respect each other enough to not demean or discriminate views that don’t line up with our own.

Visit my blog at https://privatethoughtsmadepublic.wordpress.com

Project H (Bangalore) – I have got that feeling

“The magic thing about home is that it feels good to leave, and it feels even better to come back.” – Wendy Wunder

and that is exactly how I feel about my home(s) most of the time 🙂 I have a home in Bangalore (please tell me you have heard of this place. We do boast a lot that we are one of the most cosmopolitan city in India and everyone around the world knows this place) and one in my home town where my parents live with my siblings. Hence, homes. I belong to both these places. At least I feel so. And that is what it means to have a home isn’t?

It is not the size of the place, it is the comfort and the feeling that you get when you get there that matters. I have lived in a working women’s hostel for almost 8 years and during those times my cot and my cupboard was my home. I was happy there too. There was a short time when I didn’t have any and those times were dark. I got amply compensated for that. Now I have a bigger space for myself and can do what I want with it even though I hardly use the other two rooms, and yet I never felt lonely. This place where I live now gives me the sense of security and comfort. Security, because I am caged in. From all sides. The balcony and my front door is protected by iron grills (at least that is what we call it over here and aptly so). Why? Because my home or at least the one section of it was taken over by these birds (pigeons) and I have had them as my non-paying guests for three generations. And when the fourth generation kind of started to continue, I put my foot down and had those grills installed so that they would stop from further damaging my property.home4

I still see them on the walls of the neighbouring apartments giving me a stink eye but I just do 😛 and walk away. Feels so good, I tell you. And not to mention those cats who nearly took over my place trying to bully their way in, even though this particular cat still leaves its paw marks on my scooter (how do they know my parking lot, I fail to comprehend).

Sometimes when I look out those grilled enclosures to have a peek at the sun, I am kind of reminded of Shawshank Redemption, but that is OK. Given that it is one of my favorite films, I don’t think I mind that at all.home3

What I mind is that the apartment next to mine is built too close for my comfort. What was once an empty area is now an apartment and what is worse, the view from my guest bedroom and the hall is the bedroom of a flat in the apartment next to mine. Thankfully they do have curtains and I am not the peeking kind. And I thought that is more than enough, when one day I was cackling at some very funny video on my laptop and by chance I turned around doing that dance thing I do and found a pair of eyes watching me through my hall balcony. I forgot that they can peek in my hall and bedroom too. So now, the curtains are up and closed all the time.

Lets move away from my home and see a bit about the place where my home is. Bangalore. What can I say which you cannot find in Wikipedia? If I offer to drive you somewhere, you should say no and drive a rental car yourself. Much more safer. Although, I think I should qualify for Formula 1 races after driving here for more than 5 years now. If you are a very adventurous person, you should try a ride on my scooter (of course I will be driving that) or try an auto-rickshaw (the drivers are equally bad). Nothing like those two to kick up your adrenaline levels. Try them and let me know, if you survive that. When should you visit this place? During the 2nd half of the year, where the festivals are galore and the festivities are high. But be ready to be choked by traffic.home2

I have traveled quite a bit and I am planning to do so in the near future too and one thing I have found is that I have felt at home everywhere. It might be because the people I have met were good and friendly or it might be just that I am more adaptable than I thought I was, because I never traveled anywhere until the last 5-6 years, or may be it is the fact that I know I have a home to come back to, my safety net which is ready for me, that I am comfortable in every other place. I am fortunate to have a place I can call home, I am lucky to be welcome in my parent’s and sibling’s home and be a part of theirs, and also gifted to have only good (and may be sometimes funny) experiences in places I have been and to have felt at home. Home is where your heart is? It sure is.

Title courtesy: Justin Timberlake.

Come visit my blog at https://booksmusicandmovies.wordpress.com/