I joined my present employer and moved to a new city called Bangalore. I went to Her Majesty’s dominion on a short term assignment. Courtesy: My Employer. I wanted to blog from there but my procrastination took over. Old habits die hard. Then, just two days before I came back, Mumbai attacks happened. Well coming to the point, this post is on something I have been thinking about these days.
My father was not in the armed forces. So, I am not one of those CKs (Cantonment Kids) brought up in the midst of ‘mess culture’ and used to moving around, changing schools and making new friends every 3 years.
I spent all my formative years at the same place, studied at the same school for 12 years, hanged around at the same places with the same friends for close to 15 years of my life – save for our annual family trips to Kolkata.
Then, I left home for the most natural reason – to build a career. (I guess it can still be termed as ‘Work-In-Progress’)
And since then – 19th September 1999 to be precise – I have been a perpetual vagabond, changing cities, communities, apartments and making new friends every 2 or 3 years. During this past decade of sharing toilets with strangers, having Maggi as my most faithful savior, paying 10 times the rent as ‘deposit/pugree’ and at times literally living out of a suitcase, I had a multitude of experiences, just like anybody else.
I discovered Ayn Rand and business literature, Pink Floyd and Mohd. Rafi. I explored and fell in love with Mumbai.
I had the good fortune of living with eccentrics who take bath at 3 in the morning, IITians who can discuss ‘Covergence of Religion & Science’ over a peg of No.1 (with Coke), University Gold Medallists and ‘people in relationships’, whose girl friend is sitting and giggling in your room, just when you have come out of a shower, wearing nothing but a towel around your waist.
I tasted both culinary delights as well as nightmares to the point where what I have and when I have my meals have become purely incidental. I have traveled by myriad means of public transport (no I am not in FMCG marketing), including the state transport buses of at least a dozen cities/states. (My driving license is used purely for identification purposes).
I generally like traveling, exploring new places. The credit of course goes to my parents, especially my father, who made sure that we have atleast one annual trip to visit some miniscule (and often unglamorous but beautiful) part of this vast country. So, I feel that these past 10 years of coming across a variety of cultures, people and places have definitely broadened my mind, shattered quite a few myths and most importantly, have made me suspicious of generalizations and stereotypes.
But then there’s probably no place/city where I feel at home. Not even Kolkata, my home town. Not even Surat, the place I spent my formative years. I cannot relate to the feeling when people say that they miss those bylanes, galiyan, landmarks, hang outs of their city/town and that Mumbai is impersonal because for me every city is equally impersonal. Wherever I go, there’s always a feeling that I don’t actually belong to this place and sooner or later I will have to move on. Ironically, the only city with which I can relate to is probably Bombay (not Mumbai). Or probably I belong to everywhere. A citizen of the world:)
They say that ‘Home is where Heart is’. After all these years of packing and unpacking suitcases and eating out of partitioned plates, at times I feel like going to this Home. It remains to be seen when that happens.
Till then let’s keep on humming Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Mama, I’m coming home’ :)
Times have changed and times are strange
Here I come, but I ain’t the same
Mama, I’m coming home