We travel because we need to, because distance and difference are the secret tonic to creativity. When we get home, home is still the same but something in our minds has changed, and that something changes everything.
I have a health condition that makes me very susceptible to changes in environment. Smallest fluctuations in the air around trigger my allergies and my nose turns into a leaky tap. A lot. While almost everyone loves Bangalore’s weather, it had become my personal hell because of its constantly changing feature. So volatile is the weather, that one can experience sun, rain, pleasant winds and chilly gales all in the same day. This obviously affected my work, as on such days being at the top of my game was near impossible. Soon my vacation hours went into negative and I could no longer take any holidays. So the logical choice was to move out of such an environment.
The only option available to me was Hyderabad. And so, here I am.
Although the 2 years I spent in Bangalore were illness ridden, I did not let sickness come in the way of my exploring the nooks and corners of the beautiful mystery that Bangalore is. I belong to the group of people who are more comfortable out in the open world than cooped up in a room, even when it does me physical harm. I unleashed the inner glutton at the oldest and the latest establishments in the city, witnessed roadside idli vendors offering “drive-thru” to people in BMWs, haggled in Hindi with roadside hawkers who did not understand any, broke language barriers to obtain directions during my exploratory walks, partied in pubs so late that cops showed up and closed the pub themselves (!), hit breakfast joints at 5 in the morning and then waited for them to open, drove long in the night to reach a local sunrise point and witness the sun emerge on the horizon while the clouds rose from beneath us, went on another late-night drive to find a midnight snack point – hungrily and successfully – even risking being called a psychopath by a 10-year-old girl on the metro (that’s a story for another time). And during each of these activities, I could see I was not the only one there. There were always other people like me – feasting, roaming, roaming hungrily, observing, witnessing, waiting, partying, driving, haggling, giving up and buying, walking. Living. The possibilities that Bangalore offered were limitless and for someone like me who wanted to “try-it-all”, it was an opportunity just waiting to be grabbed. And boy, did I grab. Even when I was inconveniently sick.
Not only did I live in Bangalore, I experienced Bangalore.
Needless to say, I was not very happy to leave Bangalore. I knew that finding a place as alive as this southern beauty, a perfect cocktail of all of India mixed with a tang of acceptance and welcome-ness, was next to impossible. And I had even less hopes from Hyderabad, given that I had heard absolutely no stories from the place. Which usually is not a good sign because people who love their cities never stop talking about it. To top it all, there was only one person I knew from before who was living in Hyderabad still, and he had mentioned that I could not crash at his place since he lived with his fiancee.
I reached here in sweltering hot mid-March. NestAway had made house hunt as simple as ordering a pizza, so thanks to them I did not have to roam around in 45 degrees, attempt to communicate in yet another new language, bargain for a better rent or deposit value, or argue about facilities.
Everything was set up the day I stepped in. So that part was done. But it did not help in overcoming the overbearing loneliness. Hence, I decided what every other sane guy would – hit the local brewery and get wasted, even if it was just afternoon on a Saturday. I wasn’t shocked to learn that there was only one brewery in the entire city but I was shocked to see the over-the-roof rates it charged. Next obvious stop was a fancy liquor store I had noted during my trip from the bus stop to my new place. There, my bitterness amplified when I learnt that Sula 2015 was considered to be a good wine in this city and the best they had to offer was a 2014 Australian. I was thoroughly disappointed in what the city had to offer. The following idea of watching a play or a movie in the evening was shot down too due to different reasons.
Five hours in the new city and I was already waddling in grief and self-pity. I threw myself into my bed and contemplated the time to come. And it was at that point, that it hit me: I had been in a very small fraction of the city for just 5 hours, most of which I had seen from within a vehicle, the windows rolled all the way up. I hadn’t even smelled the air of Hyderabad properly (for all those who have not experienced this yet, each city has its own unique smell. Not a bad smell or an alluring scent, just a unique smell).
Energetic as I was when I had arrived 5 hours ago, I set out again but this time on foot. And that was the most sensible decision I made since I came to Hyderabad. The city had now completely changed. What earlier seemed to be a downpour of flames from the skies was now replaced by strong and pleasant evening winds, just like in Bangalore. What earlier seemed a cacophony of honking and revving vehicles was drowned by the hollers of street vendors, just like in Bangalore. Palm trees swinging in the breeze, people hustling through the streets, birds of all feathers dashing here and there, swooping occasionally. Although everything was the same as earlier, the entire scenery had changed. It seemed as if the city had become alive again.
I recently moved to Hyderabad from Bangalore this March. I did not wish to move, but I did. And now that I am here, I’m going to set my foot and poke my nose in every single place that adds up to the difference between the Google maps-assisted Hyderabad and the booming, throbbing and lively place that the real Hyderabad is.
About The Author:
|Shantanu Rathore is a member of the NestAway community.|