I shifted to Bombay recently. (For those who don’t know yet, I got married on the 5th of May.) I came to this crowded city on June 4th. People who know me well know how much I love Madras. Though I am a Maharashtrian by birth, I grew up in Madras. 23 years. Madras gave me everything.
I liked the slow pace of the city. Contrary to the popular thought and belief, Madras isn’t slow anymore (lets reserve this topic for another day. May be when I decide to put up a blogpost next year. May be I would ve forgotten Madras by then. Never mind.) So Madras gave me everything. I used to live in Mylapore, an area known for its Brahmin population. It was the environment I grew up in. Maamis were strange people. They were also lovely people. At any point in my life, except for the past 3 months, there was a maami who tried to fatten me up with the delicious food she cooked. They were conservative. They used to keep asking my mom why she sends her daughter for cricket coaching. There was this maami next door who used to oil my short hair and who used to coax me in to growing my hair long ‘setha thala mudi a valathuko di’. idhu yena nanna va iruku, payan mari. The neighbours didn’t like me going out with boys, playing cricket with boys, cycling around with boys. Madras was restricting in nature but at the same time gave me equal opportunities that boys would enjoy. I loved Madras because streets are empty in the early morning hours and after 10 PM in the night. I liked to cycle or walk around alone. I have even had the opportunity to see a dead body hanging from a tree at Nageshwar Rao Park. That was scary alright but to me Madras is the safest place in the World.
Of all things, food was a major issue when I moved toBombay. I lived on a dosa and vetha kolambu diet inMadras. And all I get to eat in Bombay is Poha and Rotis and Rotis and more Rotis. Don’t get me started onBombay’s Street Food. I am allergic to potatoes and 80% of the vegetarian food items here are potato based.
And then the crowd factor. There is a face staring in to me wherever I go. I hate crowds and I can’t stand crowds. I hate noise. I can’t stand noise. And Bombay is both crowded and noisy. I must have been the only person to have complained of rains in Chennai. I hate rains. And it is always raining inBombay. I hate taking a train to travel around the city. And that is the only feasible option here. Crowded trains.
So you get the picture. There was nothing really I could like about this city. Every single thing was against my likeness.
But things were to change on July 13th. As it happens, I was stranded at Dadar. Only when I logged in to twitter, I realised that I was close to a place where a bomb had gone off. I was alone. I felt so lonely for the first time. Not to mention, scared. Scared and helpless in a totally different manner. I tried calling my husband but it wont go through. I left him a msg saying I was safe at a friend’s place. There I was standing with people running around helter sketler. I dint know what I should do. Take a taxi home? Walk back home? (of course, home was 10-15 kms away). I knew I could not take a bus or train. So then I finally go to people I know only on twitter. It didn’t even take a minute for help to come through. There was instant support. People were willing to help. People were worried about my safety. Special mention to @preciousness who got in touch with @delhidreams to get my contact number. She then passes my number to @mrssonal who breathes a sigh of relief only after I text her saying “I AM SAFE”. I must mention the police constable who asked me to relax and helped me get to my uncle’s house. I dint even go to him for help. He offered to help. So after I relaxed a bit at my uncle’s place, I wanted to leave home. I wanted to go back home so I could tell my husband what I felt about living in this city. I really wondered if I would be able to get a taxi back home. To my amazement, my uncle came to the roads and stopped cars to find if any of them were going to Worli or close by. I don’t know if people would do that inMadras. And to even more surprise, a lady readily offered to drop me home, though she was going elsewhere. I was astounded. I could not understand the city.
I came back home.
Husband: Did u get scared?
Me: Yes. I have never been this scared in life. This helpless. Heck, I ve never felt this way before
Husband: I am sure you miss Chennai’s peace and calm
Me: You bet I Do
Husband: Silence. This is how it is here
Me: Will my office be closed tomorrow?
Husband: *laughs* No way. Do you want to go back toMadras?
After an hour, my dad calls up to ask if things have settled down. He asked if I want to shift back to Chennai. I told him I loved this city for the first time since I came down. Not a good day to fall in love with the city. But I think the people are what make this city a beautiful place to live in. The willingness to help (People back in Madras are also helpful. Okay? #OK). I felt a sense of belonging. Bombay suddenly dint seem so new. I felt like I have been in this city forever. Sure I still love Madras more than any other place, but I thought hating a city because it is a target for terror was inhuman.
Next day –
A dear friend tells me on chat that I should so come back toMadras. I said ‘No, Bombay is home’.
P.S: This post comes straight from my diary