My Mother always said that the soul of the house is a combination of the characters that live in the house. The decoration, the photographs, the colours, the sounds, the smells of a house give it the warmth and character which makes visitors and guests feel warm and welcomed, and the people who live in it safe and happy. So no matter how shabby or posh the building, how pretty or boring the location, how big or small the house is, the people who live in it make it a home.
When I first moved into this house, a riverside apartment, it was an unfurnished bare house, it was long and plain and boring, my flatmate then said its long and boring enough to play cricket in. Over a period of time of collecting furniture, fabrics, curtains, blinds, cushions, flowers, mats and carpets flown in from Kashmir changed it into a home.
Everyone who came to the house loved the place and felt at home. It might have been small but it was cosy, having a river flowing outside with swans and ducks floating by and the occasional rower gave it a good view. Having the sun coming in through the large windows and thick walls that kept the silence and noise within made this house nice. An open kitchen where many cups of tea and many many meals were cooked while having a conversation with someone was one of the best parts.
Having a tiny bedroom filled with photographs of loved ones, cards, drawings made by students I taught a long time ago, incense sticks made it my little haven of peace. Clocks with GMT and also a small one with Indian Time, kept me connected to home in India. Paintings on the walls made by me, craft made objects collected from varied travels, books, hundreds of them from chick lit, to classics, fiction, non-fiction, travel guides, cook books filled the place with character. Music some english, some hindi, some jazz, some Indie, some dance, some Himesh, added the mood.
Yes this house was a home, warm and welcoming and open to anyone who wanted a chat, a meal, a bit of gossip, a warm hug, cups of steaming tea - English and Kashmiri, pasta and Indian curries of all sorts. It was a place friends could come and hide in, sulk in and also party in.
With most of it packed away in many many cartons, it looks like a house again. Bare walls, empty rooms and the home is back to being neutral. Empty.
I take with me many memories and a chance to turn yet another house into a home.