Remember the first time we met? In 2003, when I visited the first “mall” of my life at Kids Kemp? It was the month of October, and when we reached, it was drizzling. Someone told my dad, “There is some scientific experiment happening in Chennai, which is causing this artificial rain here.” I was awed, this was the city of engineers and scientists, and anything was possible I thought!!! I remember roaming in the Kids Kemp, amazed by so many toys available under one roof. I remember our friendly taxi driver who took us to Mysore and Ooty and then back to you, who treated me and my brother with so much affection, that it became one of our most memorable trips ever.
And then, almost 10 years later, in 2012, I came back to you, in the guise of a geeky engineer, trying to find a foothold in the IT city of India. I remember my first office where I was an intern, a huge building in the sea of construction around and for some reason, I was excited – after all, you are the Mecca for an IT engineer. The weather was cloudy and pleasant – a refreshing change from the blistering heat of plains and Manipal, even in the month of June.
Finding an accommodation was a challenge, I didn’t know Kannada, and I struggled. But then, I got used to it. I picked up few words as I haggled with auto-wallahs, who are as unpredictable as your weather. But we all managed, didn’t we?
2003-2016, it took me 13 years to learn that any turbulence in Chennai weather results in winter-like temperature drop and incessant rains with you. I learnt that you are quite different from the places I have known – it definitely rains in June and November beginning, especially around Diwali; Gobi Manchurian is the real deal; there is no holiday for Holi/Diwali; the rents are high but the security deposits are even higher and travelling 5 kms during rush hour at Silk Board can take an hour at least once a week. But that really didn’t stop me from getting used to you.
It was not all smooth though. I learnt, much to my dismay, that I would almost always be a “Northie” and that you are not as safe for women as people make out you to be. But I also re-discovered myself – I learnt to cook, I learnt yoga, I performed, I watched movies alone, I watched plays alone, and I even shopped alone. I read, I wrote (and not just code), I attended Instagram-meets and networked and I made friends for life.
As I sit at the cafeteria today, watching the clouds gather over the traffic snarling across Bannerghatta Road, I realized that you are that one place I have stayed the longest at, and that too all by myself. You have seen me grow as a person – with my opinions, ideas and interests and together, we have shared a lot. As much as I get mad at you and childishly term you a “village”, whenever there is a power cut, or no sun, or when I can’t find something that is readily available in a Delhi neighborhood, I know that you, with your plate of steaming hot idlis and filter coffee, made me the person I am today. I am a fan of your Sambhar, so much so that I don’t like Sambhar anywhere else anymore.
Stay as you are please, I know they say that the pollution and the water woes will make you unlivable in 5 years, but I also know that you would prove them wrong. There are always going to be people claiming you are “theirs”, but between you and me, we know you don’t need anyone to own you – you stand by yourself – vast and forgiving.
A “Northie” who has not been to Nandi Hills since 2003
P.S: They are going to tell me to change it to “Bengaluru”, but I know you like “Bangalore” more 😉
Featured Image : Yours truly.