8 good things about that bane called stability
I heard myself say this last evening to a person I have met recently: 'I love Bombay.'
It's strange that it came out so strongly, so spontaneously. Was I trying to impress him? Was I lying? Did I ever hate it in the first place? I wonder now.
For the first time in a while, I've begun to enjoy the convenience that this city practically brims with. e-Commerce flourishes here and commuting is a no-brainer. Domestic help knows what to do from Day 1 and instructions are usually extended only for really individualist needs - a pet or specifics in food, etc. But I still find it hard to digest the fact that I said it. I love Bombay. What kind of love? And wasn't I disenchanted with this place completely even until a couple of months ago? The stench at KalaNagar, the Rats on the railway tracks, the roaches near the sea faces...
Anything even akin to love is quite unimaginable in the present context. Not because I know some different unlikeable version of it, or because of the chain of big and small events that have shaped my very recent past, but because I have indeed met an exquisite crop of natives and non-natives here at the onset of this third stint. And while some have proved to be sour and/ or bitter, more have found a special place in my heart.
Bombay is indeed like New York, isn't it? Lines from Baz Luhrmann's Sunscreen Song come to mind:
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hardThe hiccups that ensue moving towns are nothing short of royal pains, especially when you do it at a frequent flier rate. And so, this time I'm in the mood to stay put for just a while, even if, to enjoy what they call stability. Looks like a rather peaceful space to be in and this is how!
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.
1. Paid LeaveImagine being paid your work pay for 7 whole consecutive days away from your smartphone and laptop and number crunching and deadlines and sheaves of paper and late nights - instead getting a massage on a secluded beach, sipping on a long island iced tea or getting yourself some wholesome family time gorging on your mum's awesome delicacies! I've had the chance only once before, and I blew it by not taking it. Now I'm determined to make use of the mundane perk.
2. TaxesI did my own taxes this year, and the anxiety and last minute frenzy was far from fun. For a math challenged human being with absolutely no patience for government forms, this was torture personified. Finding an agent at the 11th hour may have been a blessing, but it cost me a stiff fee that worked fairly well as a lesson for life.
3. House HuntAs a veteran home searcher in Bombay, I may have lived in all kinds of spaces - hostel, PG, rented accommodation, a relative's house, a friend's bachelor pad, and more - but the peace of familiarity and conversation with neighbours, the knowledge of all the provision stores, doctors and salons in the vicinity and being able to walk around without losing your way (very possible when you are me) is beyond compare.
Of course, the task of looking for a place to stay and the irks and pains that accompany - agents, misfits, inappropriate spaces (or the lack thereof), last minute denials - squeeze the life out of you even if for just a few weeks at most.
4. Soaking LocalAnd by that I don't mean having to be the sponge that must bear the wrath of sweaty co-commuters on local trains. Every place offers its unique flavour in terms of food, people and architecture - India is blessed that way - and getting acquainted beyond your neighbourhood usually takes at least a couple of rounds of the cycle seasons.
5. Weekend TripsAll the three cities I've lived & worked in so far are blessed with fantastic weekend getaway options galore. With a fantastic natural boulder-laden landscape in and around Hyderabad and the ghats as well as beaches around Pune-Mumbai, one should be driving out/ taking off at least once every month if not more frequently. There's so much ground to cover, literally!
6. Phone NumberChanging numbers is such a pain! Letting people know, and then changing the number in all official documents and some forgotten ones complaining on public digital forums about how irresponsible you are as a social animal... no ya.
7. Suitcases......and therefore packing and unpacking is possibly one of the biggest and most tiring chores of moving frequently. Instead of a trash-discarding activity, it becomes a matter of how best to pack it all and lug it around. The number of bags begin to feel meagre and stuff just keeps collecting. Often, memories begin to be thrown with what may seem dispensable in the short term.
8. PetsAnyone who has had them will vouch for just what a source of comfort domesticated animals can be. Whether you have a farm for a few horses or just a little balcony for a guinea pig, and all the beautiful creatures in between, they all require time and love and staying put makes for wonderful time off with creatures other than our own kin.
Of course, there are minor advantages of staying put - the little DIY projects you may take on, hosting Couchsurfers or just old friends on stopovers and catching up or even just a weekly off or holiday with that someone special over a game of chess or scrabble. As a wanderer and pseudo nomad coming of age, I'd say injecting structure into your jaywalking isn't that bad an idea!