Home is such a thin word

Home is such a thin word. So thin, and yet it can s t r e t c h between two continents. Maybe all thin words like this – hope, love – possess a flexibility that allows people to carry them everywhere, even across the oceans. But while hope and love can begin anywhere, home once had roots.
How do we define home – is it the place where we first saw the light of day, the place where we have lived most of our life, or the place where we live in at the moment? I’ve been asking myself this question for years.

Last month I was home – not the place I have lived in for more than a decade, or the one where I saw the light of day, but the one in between. My second home, perhaps that would be a good name for it.
I saw family and friends, went places, touched snow for the first time in years, ate way too much, slept erratic hours, visited bookstores and a big library, bought souvenirs. And I felt almost like a tourist, taking out my pocket camera to snap quick photos before my hands froze and I had to stop and search in my pockets for the warmth of my mittens. This is one thing I did not miss, the biting cold, the sudden departure from the 30 degree Celsius weather to temperatures below 0.

I found the city slightly changed – a bit more modern, cleaner, the people nicer. I was shocked by the number of pastry shops selling pretzels sprinkled with salt and poppy seeds, a popular snack which I indulged in nearly every day. I forgot how many such shops there were. I missed: bread, cheese, and the joy of walking without sweating in the first five minutes; mulled wine with a hint of pepper; Romanian books. I’ve read one in which a little old lady with a razor-sharp mind and the ability to deceive nearly everyone almost gets away with committing a crime. But then her cat spoils everything. I think Caroline would have enjoyed this book.
I visited a bazaar with all kinds of artsy things for sale and I took a photo of an old picture and I remembered M—l and his collection of vintage photographs he sometimes blogs about.
I had a great time. And I came back with some photographs and a handful of great memories.

Old church

Old church

Pretzel & pastry shop....

Pretzel & pastry shop….

...and 5 minutes later.

…and 5 minutes later.

In the city

In the city

In the city

In the city





Old city

In the Old City

Another old church

Another old church



DSC00392 Irish pub in the Old City


DSC00394 Carturesti Bookstore

DSC00398 Inside Carturesti Bookstore









DSC00444 Humanitas Bookstore

DSC00446 Inside Humanitas Bookstore


Books in a subway station

Books in a subway station

Used books

Used books

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18 Responses to Home is such a thin word

  1. Sharlene says:

    Thanks for sharing your photos. It looks quite lovely especially the bookstore!

    Funnily, one thing I dread about returning to my “home” ie Singapore for a visit is the heat and humidity!

    • Delia says:

      Hi Sharlene,
      That white bookstore just opened (perfect timing) and it is very lovely indeed, like a page out of a fairytale.
      You’re not used to this kind of heat anymore, right? Especially when you come from a cold climate, you feel it way more.
      Thanks for coming by. It’s been a while. 🙂

  2. M-----l says:

    First off, thanks for the shout-out. It’s always fun to find myself in other people’s posts.

    Secondly, I would like to share with you my definition of home. It sounds silly, but I swear it’s the definition I’ve been using in my mind for over 25 years. Home is where the plastic cow is. My grandmother gave me a plastic cow when I was in my teens. I’ve sat it in the window sill of every place I’ve lived since then. If I bring the cow with me to a new place, then that new place officially becomes my home. If I leave the cow in an old place or don’t bother sitting her in the window sill, then my home remains in the previous place. There are exceptions and sub-rules, but that’s basically how it works for me. The cow has been sitting above my current kitchen sink for going on 13 years.

    And finally, those book stores look like a lot of fun.

    • Delia says:

      Hi M—-l,
      That is a lovely definition of home. Thank you for sharing. It’s a very nice way of remembering your grandmother.
      Now all I can think about is how the cow looks on that windowsill. Is it looking in or out the window?

      The bookstores were a lot of fun, especially the white one. The biggest surprise for me was to see those books in the subway station (I’ve added a photo). That really made my day.

      • M-----l says:

        The plastic cow has its head angled slightly to the right, so it’s looking into the kitchen…over by where I keep the bananas.

        I’ve never seen a vending machine that sells books. Cool.

        • Delia says:

          That put a great picture in my head – the cow and the bananas.

          I haven’t seen one either but for some reason it made me so incredibly happy. I’ve seen pictures on the internet of “book boxes” (for want of a better description) with glass doors on the streets where people could go and take free books and also leave the ones they don’t want to keep. I wish there were more of those everywhere. Meanwhile this is great too. A lot of people read on the subway.

  3. Brian Joseph says:

    This is a very thoughtful post Delia.

    The pictures are great.

    As someone who has lived in the same area all of my life I never had the experience of returning home after a long period of time. I appreciate you sharing the experience.

    • Delia says:

      Thanks for the kind words, Brian. I’m being somewhat melancholy after coming back, a normal reaction after a nice long holiday.
      You must really like the area where you live.

  4. Athira says:

    Glad that you had a great break and a wonderful time at home! I love those bookstores – they are such a visual treat too. Thanks for sharing these pictures – I should visit sometime.

    • Delia says:

      Thanks Athira, it was a wonderful break indeed. I’m glad you enjoyed the pictures, and I’m also very glad I got to be there and take them. If only it wasn’t so cold, my fingers were like icicles!

  5. Deb Atwood says:

    Beautiful pictures! I’m in love with the bookstore.

    When I read your lovely post beginning with the word “home,” my mind immediately went to The Wind in the Willows and the poignant scene in which Mole feels the call to go home. I couldn’t help myself–here are some lines from the chapter Dulce Domem:

    Home! That was what they meant, those caressing. appeals, those soft touches wafted
    through the air, those invisible little hands pulling and tugging, all one way! Why, it
    must be quite close by him at that moment, his old home that he had hurriedly forsaken and never sought again, that day when he first found the river! And now it was sending out its scouts and its messengers to capture him and bring him in….Shabby indeed, and small and poorly furnished, and yet his, the home he
    had made for himself, the home he had been so happy to get back to after his day’s
    And the home had been happy with him, too, evidently, and was missing him, and
    wanted him back, and was telling him so, through his nose, sorrowfully, reproachfully,but with no bitterness or anger…
    The call was clear, the summons was plain. He must obey it instantly, and go.

    Thank you for stirring memories of a most loved passage!

    • Delia says:

      Hi Deb,
      I think you mean the white bookstore, right? That’s a totally understandable reaction, I was in love with it, too.
      I haven’t read “The Wind in the Willows” (yet) but that was a lovely passage you shared. Thank you!

  6. Vishy says:

    Beautiful post, Delia! From your description of thin words to the pictures, I loved every bit of it! Mulled wine with a hint of pepper and Romanian books – they must have been so wonderful! I loved all the pictures that you have posted, especially the ones of the bookstores. My favourite one is ‘Carturesti’ – it is so beautiful from the inside! I also love the fact that ‘bookshop’ is ‘librarie’ in Romanian 🙂

    Glad to know that you had a wonderful time at home. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and the pictures and taking us there.

  7. Delia says:

    Hi Vishy,
    They go together very well, mulled wine and books and it’s been too long since I’ve read a Romanian book. It was actually pretty funny and very Sherlock-like. Now that I think of it, I just finished another book that had a cat in it – Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – although this one didn’t play a major role. Still, cats.
    I’m glad you liked the pics, Carturesti was truly a dream, and yes, you got that word right. 🙂

  8. Hi Delia,

    This is a lovely post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and pictures. Loved them. 🙂

    While I was reading your post, I couldn’t help but pause, go back, and read these lines over and over again.

    “Maybe all thin words like this – hope, love – possess a flexibility that allows people to carry them everywhere, even across the oceans.”

    So beautiful!

    Hope you had a great time.

    • Delia says:

      Hi Deepika,
      Those bookstores were the highlight of my holiday. That, and the fact that my friends took me to a classical music concert for the first time and it was a wonderful experience.
      It was a great holiday, so great in fact I’m already thinking about the next one.
      Thank you for the kind words.

  9. Caroline says:

    I’ve missed. It’s a great post. I had no idea about your in-between home.
    Lovely pictures.
    Yes, I would have loved that book, I’m sure. 😉
    I often wonder where “home” is.
    It’s great to see so many bookshops. In “my” town” they are slowly closing down.

    • Delia says:

      Hi Caroline,
      I’m glad you like the pictures. It was great spending some time in my in-between home and I think I enjoyed it all the more knowing how short it was.
      I’m sorry to hear about the bookshops in your town closing down. I wish there was a way they could have survived.

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