Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The cities and the Loves

The cities I have been to... so many of them... perhaps more than 30 in India and few outside as well. And everywhere I went, I found a similar feeling - that this city is very different. Each city had its own character, its own smell, and its own story. Whenever I think of the cities I have been to, I get a whiz of fresh air, a breeze, a goose-flesh, a pain, a joy, a sadness, a memory... and a smile!

Sharing some of those smiles (or the lack of it) of Indian cities. Ought to omit Lucknow and foreign cities for the time being... Writing about foreign cities will be some other day, when I am in a more formal mood unlike emotional mood today. And writing about Lucknow is not possible for me. That is my city. That is where I belong. So that will take longer than a life to write. Well, so, here it goes:

Jaipur - You must be luckiest city of life so far! I mean, every time we met, you welcomed me with poetry, literature, pleasant experiences, amazing food, nice friends, hugs from Gulzar, blessings from Nizam Sahab, love from Aadil Bhai, and what not! I never had a reason or plan to meet you and yet, you have been a great buddy. You are like that first crush of school days, where all days are happy days and nothing can go wrong.

Calcutta - I visited you for the first time in 2004. I almost hated you, except some small patches of joy. You were sweaty, grumpy, tiring, dirty, and scary. Then, I got to meet you again in 2008 and then, almost every year since 2011. I am sorry that I hated you for so long. The Ganges is majestic, the monuments are magnificent, and there is a whiff of erudition in the air. Although that whiff is mostly hollow blabber, the air is thick with pollution, and smoking is as common as worst kind of poverty-ridden human existence; I don't know why everybody is so happy. Perhaps, when they labelled you as the City of Joy, they were right! You are like that love of graduation days, where there is no money and no hand-holding but something made us fly above clouds.

Varanasi - I have met you twice. You amused, mesmerized, and confused me each time. There was an aura of sanctity mixed with insanity, roots mixed with rots, and glamour mixed with garbage. Your mannerism was questionable yet quintessential. Your hospitality was puzzling yet pure. Your people were abhorrent yet admirable. You are like that class-topper, simple, beautiful, suave girl, whom we all observed and obsessed, liked and leered, tried talking and talking but everything was always from a sacrosanct distance.

Delhi - We have met so many times. Initially, you were a stranger, and a rude one at that. But we kept meeting anyways, more out of compulsion than choice. Sometimes I passed through your airports, sometimes I stayed for a day or two to hop-off to somewhere else. Sometimes, I tried exploring you as well - your museums and monuments, your people and parks, your surroundings and systems. You became more and more welcoming. You opened up to me. You served me with utmost hospitality. But there is something missing. I do not feel anything for you. You are like that girl of the college days, who had a crush on me but her affection remained unrequited.

Kanpur - I have met you a few times. Every time, you were filthy, unfruitful, and unfriendly. And despite this, you were always cocky about something useless. I don't know why we ever had to meet. You are like that neighborhood girl, who can scare the witches but behaves as the ultimate demoiselle.

Mumbai - You were my first city outside Lucknow. And you always scared me. Rather, even today, you scare me. Why are you so big and so busy and so bustling with something or the other all the time?! Well, I have met you so many times that despite this scare, there is a comfort and a coziness in your lap. Once I got the hang of the people, the places, the sea, and the trains, you have showered me with a very safe and nice feeling. I still can't live with you but I love meeting you every time. You are like that mature love that grew out of friendship and even if it didn't culminate into anything material, it is always a treasure.

Bangalore - I am familiar with you. I have met you so many times, in so many ways, with so many relations, explored almost every corner of you, with almost every mode of transport, seen your trees, your birds, your people, your CCDs, your jams, your markets, your societies, your hotels, your malls... and despite seeing so much, I feel a distance from you. The warmth is missing between us. No excitement in coming, no butterflies in stomach in staying, no sinking feeling in going back. You are like that marriage sans love, which we both live through.


Priti Tiwari said...

i M re reading this blog ,may b coz i have been to all cities mentioned,except Bangalore and kanpur .and in my mind i recall the experiences of these cities thoug very different from yours .well written :).

Sid said...

Thanks Priti Ji... for reminding of this post and the promise therein. Someday soon, I'll write about the foreign cities also :)


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