“To my muse, to my whore, to my beloved.”
Pune is smaller. It’s easier to commute within the city. Pleasant weather. Great locality. A neat friend network. School. High School. College. Everything has been sorted out. Everything continues to unfold in a perfect sequence.
Rewind to the bit when we moved to Pune. You could call it The Milestone, because before that my life had been hunky dory, pretty much (Well, what would you expect from a scrawny, nine-year old kid?). I hated Pune with a vengeance. It was all about Bombay. And how I would miss my house. My grandparents. My friends. What about the stack of memories that had built up over the years?
Say hello to irony.
Anyway, I’m not here to ramble about how I learnt to adjust to my new surroundings. It’s just about this sudden, random realisation that hit me today, on my way to IITB.
I know it’s stupid of me to judge this city (this maddening city with local trains running all over it, carrying people who jostle, shove and stumble upon each other and hang onto a dear life, whilst waiting impatiently to reach their respective destinations,) based on meeting a bunch of enterprising folks at the campus of IITB, but, it just felt as though Bombay was welcoming me, and was eager to usher me in.
I have had a terrific weekend. Met a friend, with whom I got recently acquainted, and jeez, it seemed as though we had known each other for a lifetime. Made new friends at the campus. Watched one of my favourite punk bands perform live on stage. Managed to watch Life of Pi (exactly a month after its release!), finally. Visited my childhood home, and felt a rush of nostalgia. Spent a good time with my family, and relatives alike, after what seems like ages. And right now, I’m hastily typing everything down, lest it all slips away.
There were no delays. No frustrating last minute cancellations. No evil conspiracy to stop me from having a good time. It’s almost like Bombay made sure that everything went according to plan.
I don’t visit this city as often as I used to. There was a time when we would drive down every weekend to meet our folks at home. But, that faded away as we gradually settled in.
Bombay must I have sensed I don’t miss her anymore. This time she vouched to give me a splendid time with all my close ones. She wanted me to realise that she is an integral part of my life.
I don’t know her as well as I know Pune. After all, I was quite young when we moved out. I am clueless when it comes to navigating within this city. The roads, the traffic, the trains, the buses, the concrete jungle, the crowd, the hustle and the bustle, the sights, the smells, the sounds, and the weather can not only stagger a new comer, but also an ex-Bombayite, who hardly visits her home city that changes slightly with each visit.
But, somewhere down the line, familiarity lingers.
There’s this one small thing that was a highlight of my stay as well, and though it might seem very inconsequential to the reader, I’m going to put that down.
The ten minute rickshaw ride to IITB from my cousin’s place.
It was hardly anything. Over the flyover and along Powai lake. And tada! There comes IITB on my left. However, it was my first ever rickshaw ride in Bombay without a guide. As a child, I always had an uncle or a grandparent to tag along with me everywhere. Today, I got my ten minutes of free rein, which was indeed very special.
To feel the same breeze that blows daily, all year round, as a child is different from sensing it as a teenager on the brink of adulthood. Earlier, I had been carefree, and hadn’t a damned clue about commuting, the pains of high school, managing boyfriends, or the sweet liberty of using debit cards and consuming alcohol, tolerating emotional hassles, and all those complicated aspects of growing up. To me, Bombay has always meant walks with my grandfather, ice-creams, stationery shops, crayons, story-books, lollipops, slides, swings and see-saws, Esselworld, elementary school, beaches, etc. Bombay’s streets have always been unknown to me, but, this time it was almost as if she was assuring me that learning her ways wouldn’t be exacting.
I think I will eventually spend a good part of my ripe years in this city. Bombay will call me soon, I know.
I just want her to know that she will always be loved no matter what. We share a great rapport, you see.