“When you have lived at a place long enough, every place seems small – a house, a city , a country.”
I read the above line in a Chuck Palahniuk novel ,The Diary, and instantly related to it. With the combination of me living in various hostels and my dad having a transferable job, I have lived in a lot of places. And eventually got tired of them. Though I loved every place initially , eventually they threatened to hold me captive – to their roads, petty customs and familiar people. They became suffocating. I wanted to get out because there was so much I had not seen and wanted to see. I was and still am afraid to belong to anywhere or anyone.
Then I went to college in a sleepy little town in Tamil Nadu called Vellore. There was not much there except our college. No Baristas or McDonalds. Just a place called Naidu Mess where you could get idlis for 2 bucks and coffee for 3, a small tea shop which opened at 4 am where we went in the morning(often without money) for something to eat and smoke. In this small town i smoked my first cigarette and had my first drink. Here i found ayn rand , metal and the occasional joint. Got expelled from my hostel and also got the best pay package at the placements. A little bit of everything. Met a wonderful friend whose philosophy in life is – “I” place my wants before my needs.”
It was here that I met that girl. That girl who came into my life silently. I gave her, her first cigarette( with a $ drawn on its butt as in Atlas Shrugged) and she gave me a love I had least expected of her. She was enigmatic; she was mature yet childish, daring yet conservative , deeply attached to some things and people yet equally scared of attachment, strong yet very fragile. I never could understand her, she understood me completely. Against the backdrop of Vellore, along with her, I went through the extreme of emotions -love , passion, jealousy and heartburn. Vellore was the thread which held us together for a long time, more than what was good for her, less than what was enough for me.
Its been around two years since my umbilical cord with Vellore was cut. Yet I reminisce fondly about all the things that Vellore was, but more than anything, for someone who has been pathologically homeless – it was a place he called home.