Thursday, 21 June 2012

From 'Joy' To 'Dreams'

Twenty-two years ago, I was born in the City of Joy, Kolkata, on a rainy September morning. Kolkata is my place of birth and it is in this city that I have spent seventeen glorious years of my life...Having spent joyous years of my childhood and adolescence, here; I associate Kolkata with warmth, friendliness and lots of colour! It is a city that not only boasts off a rich cultural heritage but also of being a foodie's paradise. It is a peculiar mix of tradition and modernity. You will find people across all age-groups preferring ethnic wear over Western wear. Women draped in colourful cotton sarees and men wearing kurtas, dhotis and lungis is a common sight. Kolkata is one place that teaches you not to judge a book by its cover - no matter how traditional the attire of the people is, most of the people in Kolkata have a modern outlook towards life - the birth of a girl or a boy is celebrated with equal pomp and festivity; equal emphasis is given by parents on, both, academics and extra-curricular activities; and parents are more liberal than those in other parts of the country in terms of acceptance of romantic relationships (no matter how short the duration)...Kolkata is a place of funny contradictions - living expenses in Kolkata are not much and you can treat yourself to a hearty meal for just thirty rupees! There are small 'dhabas' or eateries in narrow, dingy lanes but be warned! Even if you are sitting in one of these cheap eating-joints, you will be expected to adhere to the same code of conduct as you would follow while dining in a five-star restaurant. If you do not wish to follow table manners, eat the street-food off the roads! You can visit shopping malls but you will not be allowed to sit outside on the steps of a mall in Kolkata - that is a privilege you can enjoy only in Mumbai or Bangalore...In its own way, Kolkata is a funny mix of being cheap and, at the same time, being elitist...It is a city that exudes vibrance along with a laid-back attitude.

I lived in Bangalore for three years. I went there as soon as my school-life was over.Bangalore is the 'Garden City of India' and, the initial few days in Bangalore made me fall in love with the weather and the lush, green spaces... I was looking forward to a new phase of my life in college but Bangalore, to me, came as a culture shock when I actually ended up living in the city! Every city exposes its true nature when you put forth your vulnerable side before it; and I found Bangalore to be rather voyeuristic! Girls, there, were busy smoking in public, discussing what to wear while going partying, displaying the latest accessory they had bought or showing off their new phone! Bangalore never became a place where I felt I was at home...Apart from being the Garden City, it is also the I.T. Hub of India of our country...The college in which I studied made us follow a strict code of rules and regulations and towards the end of my third year, I actually felt like I was training to become a robot - a mechanical entity programmed to behave in a certain way to suit the technological environment of the area...I also got to know why Bangalore is the infamous 'suicide capital' of India -I associate Bangalore with being a city that has a whiff of reckless air of irresponsibility around it which ultimately gets to you (at least in my case, it did!)...

Ultimately tired of my robotic existence in Bangalore, I moved to the City of Dreams. I have been in Mumbai for more than two years now. It is similar to Kolkata in terms of climate and having friendly people. However, life in Mumbai is extremely fast-paced when compared to the lazy life of the people in Kolkata. Standing outside Kurla station in the peak hours of morning and watching the people move like an army of ants is indeed a very fascinating sight! Marine Drive is one of the few places in Mumbai where I escape to when the rapid life of the city gets to me - there is something about the salty waters that always instills in me a sense of tranquility. Just like Kolkata has areas like Dalhousie that are proof of its British association, South Bombay has a few such areas of magnificent British architecture...There are many more similarities between the financial capital and the cultural capital of our country but on days, when I miss Kolkata and its old-world charm extremely, visiting Banganga does the trick!

Over time, I have realized that in order to occupy a place and to have the place occupy you, you need to get intimate with it! I love talking and for me to feel at home in a particular place, I need to know the language. Being able to converse in Bengali fluently and being able to understand Marathi has enabled me to warm up to these places sooner than I would under usual circumstances - in the case of Bangalore, I was totally unfamiliar with any of the South Indian languages and apart from my love for South Indian food, there was nothing in the city that made me feel like a local there...

Mumbai is a city that appears familiar to me and I have adapted myself to the life-style and work-culture here. Becoming a part of this has ensured that the city will not forget or abandon me. I will not be cut off from the activities of the city...

I think I was a happier person in Kolkata than I am at present. Now, I am a romanticist and more of a dreamer. I dream of a perfect Utopian world and aspire to achieve it...Of course, reality is very different and there are times when my idealistic notions are crushed...In those times, I have friends to fall back on...No matter how troubled the times are, I always believe that tomorrow comes with the promise of being a better day and the start of a fresh, new beginning...From the innocent, joyous wonder years of childhood, I have moved to a more adult world without shrugging off my dreamy-eyed expression...The world continues to amaze me and each day, I learn something of some significance...I have moved from 'joy' to 'dreams' and the hope is that one day, my dreams will turn into a beautiful reality!

18 comments:

  1. Yo,
    You have beautifully rounded up of the cities you have lived in. I particularly liked the part about - well you guessed it - aamchi Mumbai:))
    Here are a few things i would like to add:
    a) In Kolkata you can have a hearty mean under 20 bucks:P i remember gorging on cholar dal and puris outside Park Street Station at 2 bucks per puri - they would charge nothing for the cholar dal:P

    b) At City Centre, you can sit on the stairs, though they lead to the mall complex, technically it is still a mall:P

    c) As far as women smokers go, i have seen a hell lot of them in Kolkata as well.

    d) "discussing what to wear while going partying, displaying the latest accessory" well that is pretty much true of any of the cities u have mentioned:))

    Keep blogging:))

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    1. Ha!Ha! I know why you liked the part about Aamchi Mumbai :D :D
      But there are some clarifications:

      a) It was under 20 bucks a few years ago :D With rising expenses, let's say - you can fill your stomach within 30 bucks :)

      b) The way we sit outside the ledge or on the steps near K-Star Mall in Mumbai or the way I used to do so with my friends outside Forum in Bangalore, I did that in Kolkata once but was asked to get up by the guards...in City Centre you can, but the entire thing is not a mall - it has housing complexes and other hangout options - you cannot sit on the steps of the mall even inside City Centre :D :D

      c) I do not say women smokers do not exist in Kolkata - I have seen women smoking in lounge-bars, pubs, some open spaces in Salt Lake and Park Street but it isn't soooo out in the open as it is in Bangalore - even Mumbai does not have that many women publicly displaying the amount of smoke they are exhaling and inhaling :P :P

      d) I think those sorts of girls are everywhere but what struck me about Bangalore was that it was the only thing girls wanted to talk about!!

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  2. Awww.. Enjoyed reading it Divya.. I totally agree with you that Bangalore is not a place where we feel like a home.. But Mumbai is really homely place.. And I say this being a Karnatakan.. Well, had never been to Kolkata but someday I wish to. Especially I would visit Kolkata to have chicken rolls that we get on streets..:)

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    1. Please do visit Kolkata and try the street-food there :) :) You will love it!

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  3. Divya, you pretty much summed up each city as it is:) Since I have stayed in all these places, can relate to your sentiments well:)

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    1. Glad to know that you could identify with what I have written here :D

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  4. hmmm..Mumbai is my home, so I know how the city envelopes you in its arms and lets you be. But I like Bangalore too. Somehow, it does feel like home to me :-)
    Seriously, you didn't find women smoking brazenly in Mumbai?? am surprised :-)
    Liked the way you filled out the comparison, Divya.
    I'd written a similar post comparing Hyd and Mumbai and again comparing Mumbai and B'lore some time back
    http://mymaidenattempt.blogspot.in/2011/08/tale-of-two-cities.html
    http://mymaidenattempt.blogspot.in/2011/10/amchi-mumbai-or-namma-bengalooru.html

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    1. I have seen women smoking brazenly in Mumbai but it happened post-Bangalore so that feature no more had any shock value :P :P But I still say women smokers are more in Bangalore than in the other cities - at least when it comes to smoking in open spaces! I shall definitely read these posts of your's and get back to you :) Thanks for sharing :)

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  5. i always wish to visit Kolkata once...

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    1. I hope your wish comes true soon :D

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  6. Nice post Dhivya ..

    Good that you have lived in so many cities .. I have come to think that it is an experience that shapes you and your personality in many ways .. Adapting to a different place and its people chisels you to take on all changes that life inevitably throws at everyone ..
    I have never lived away from home .. I have no clue how I would react and adapt if I ever have to live elsewhere :)

    You have enumerated your experiences so well .. Refreshing to read as usual ..

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    1. I agree with you - I think with every place you visit, you carry some part of it with you always (sometimes even without realizing it)...And trust me - no one knows how they will survive away from home when they are at home but once you actually take the plunge, we all learn through experiences and mistakes :) :) Glad you enjoyed reading this :)

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  7. Nice post, Divya! I love both Mumbai and Bangalore. Mumbai - I've studied, worked and lived there. Bangalore has always been short trips to meet extended family. I miss the fast pace of Mumbai and the ease of getting to places, really helpful people and my freedom. Bangalore is beautiful, good weather, very different from Bangalore but I've never explored much. And I can get easily lost there. Language is perpetually work-in-progress. Kolkata is on my wishlist forever! I've had roommates extolling it to the skies. One even flew back with the rolls which are v. famous there:))

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    1. Thanks Wren :) :) I wish I could carry a bagful of food from Kolkata each and every time I leave the city...Till date, I end up bringing pastries from Kookie Jar for friends - they all love it!

      Where do you live now if not in Mumbai?

      Bangalore is a place where I have never been lost because I think it is a rather small city - I love the weather but I don't really like the city much otherwise...

      I hope you can visit Kolkata some time soon :D

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  8. Nice blog. I like mumbai most. I felt its a nice place inspite of all things people are good.

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    1. I LOVE MUMBAI too but I can never decide whether I like Mumbai more or Kolkata :D

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    2. Tks for reply. Do visit my blog if u have time. Can i chat with u?

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    3. Isn't that what we are doing now?

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