A thousand miles away from home, terribly upset about my trip to Kolkata being replaced by one to Texas, I was even more annoyed as the much awaited and much planned US trip was scheduled during Durga Puja, the biggest festival for Bengalis spread across five days. I had waited the whole year to be home during this time. I cursed and complained to the whole city of Bangalore, where I work and half of the world, “Couldn’t the training wait till I was back from Kolkata?” Goaded by company priorities and demanding authorities, I had headed to the land of cow boys.

With strangers around and only those employees as my fellow mates with whom I had never interacted before and the wildest of thoughts bothering me regarding my parent’s health, my state of mind was pretty low. I missed home.

Though I loved all of it – Texas, the mornings there; the apartment I lived, the night walks, the Walgreen and the Target, the Halloween and the Black Friday, even the service centre lady who always howled that the internet centre would shut in another five minutes, the drive to office, the weekend fun of fiesta or sea world, the young Mexican lady in her early thirties who was part of the training team busy flirting with a colleague or I wonder at hindsight now, was the writer in me just imagining its possibilities – somehow, something was terribly missing. The warmth of home!

The guy was always after the young lady and she tried hard to resist or veil her pink ears to maintain a certain amount of professionalism, miserably failing though. I shared a great bonding with her, knew her a little more than I knew others. I knew her name Paula, her husband’s attitude towards her, her daughter’s age, the amount she pays for a haircut, her weekend engagements, her culinary skills, her Mexican upbringing and her work.

I know I am a strong woman with no silly emotions or expectations from people. Just that, even strong women are born with tear glands that betrayed and became sensitive every time I made long distance calls. The calling cards get over, even before I could express myself well, the mixed feelings I had of enjoying the trip; employing my time well and miserably craving to be home. I missed not just my family, but the TV channels, the traffic in Bangalore roads, the winters in Kolkata and most of all, food. I just could not eat the food there.

That is all Paula knew about me, about my strong urge to be back home. One fine day, to my utter surprise, she cooked spicy chicken for me, knowing Indians prefer a lot of spice in their meals. After I tasted it, she asked innocently “Does it taste like home?” I stared at her for an abnormally long time. I had not imagined she had even listened to me so intently while I whined. I realized she knew me much more than I knew her. She filled the vacuum I felt so long. My complaints dried up. I was home, just in another country – might sound clichéd – found a sister, elsewhere!!