- By Joyeeta Patpatia
Sometimes your city can displace you. From who you are, how you feel, what you are and what you want to be. I felt displaced in Bombay.
Every now and then I dreamt of escape. From the grime, sweat, hard work, tired feet and the noise. Oh the noise.
I spent the first 7 years of my life in a remote little place in Oman called Salalah. We lived in (multiple) pretty little houses by the sea, went for picnics, flew giant kites, buried dead grasshoppers (toothpick cross included) and slept peacefully in the world of The Brothers Grimm.
We visited my grandmother in Bombay every year, and my mother tells me I tiptoed on the streets so that the brown mud wouldn’t touch me. But how I loved those visits! The black and grey checks on the stone floor, the white wooden ladder that led to the loft in the house, the mithaiwala who came home every morning, were all so absolutely, intoxicatingly exotic!
We moved to Bombay after a short stint in Hyderabad, when I was 14.
The exoticness remained, I was still enthralled by everything Bombay, the smell of rain, smelly train stations, the massive red double decker buses…I felt alive and lucky to be experiencing “the exotic” everyday!
Work took me right into the thick of things. Advertising and films kept me on the streets for about 4 years. I explored every lane on the pretext of a recce, I took cab rides alone at 3 am just for the adventure(I almost got kidnapped once, so my efforts for adventure paid off!)
My friends and I lay down on marine drive after a hard night of partying, talking and laughing at the edge of the black night sea.
But often I felt trapped by the familiar. The routine slowly started sapping the exoticness out of my world. The crowds began to suffocate me, the metro construction made my street ugly.
I moved to Bangalore last November, after a very happy, fun wedding and an excellent adventure in Greece and Turkey.
I thought finally I’m in another city, on my own without family or familiar comforts. I loved the trees, the flowers, the glorious weather. I felt like I’m on holiday!
Its so quiet here. I can often hear my thoughts, and somehow I’m so uncomfortable with that. I finish work and reach home in 10 minutes. Theres no crazed rush for the train, theres no 1 hour auto rides with a view of the sea through dried fish. There’s no Baristas in the evening and Taj loos at night. There is nothing but time. Which leads to thoughts and analysis.
It makes me sad. I want to be busy so that I can immerse myself in finding the new ‘exotic’. But its not rushing at me like it did before. Its not like this city doesn’t have magic, but it’s a different kind. Slow magic maybe.
Untill I find it, love it, drain it, here I am, displaced again.