You know what’s the pro of having family around? You never have to worry about going off the deep end. There’s the security of knowing that come month end and a bleeding bank balance that prompts visits to the ATMs that can dispense notes by the hundred, you can always drop in for a friendly visit to your parents and be sufficiently taken care of. At least, that’s how it’s been for me since I left home to pursue life as a ‘young, independent woman’ at 17. There’s been more gags than laughs since then, to say the least. But, I’m a different breed. Families work slightly differently in Delhi. At the risk of generalisation, most of my close friends in their early-mid twenties here stay with their families. They eat with their families, go to Gymkhana with their families, drink with their families, shop with their families and some even do shots with their grandmothers. While, on one hand, I understand the closeness this weaves and how convenient it is to have a family and all its attendant comforts to fall back on (being young and alone isn’t everybody’s cup of tea) I also feel it takes away a huge part of growing up. The part where you have to make do with unused kitchen cabinets, cereal for dinners for days you’re broke, cleaning out dust bunnies in corners you didn’t know existed, waking up one Sunday morning with the taste of dehydration and a stranger in your mouth, the art of scurrying said stranger out without coming across as too much of a bitch – life alone can sometimes feel marooned, sometimes heady with freedom but mostly, your own. The one thing I did come to appreciate about people well past their early twenties who stay with family out of choice, after I’d navigated early morning hours in a close friend’s (that’s what we choose to call the status quo) house trying to sneak past his sleeping dog/cook/parents respectively, is that it does instil a certain sense of belonging that evades me as much as calculating the exact change on my bills does. A sense of knowing where you come from and taking pride in that fact. That being said, there is a fine line between learning how to cook your famous family recipe because you spent enough time in the kitchen giving your mother company and not knowing when to snap the proverbial apron strings off.