Harshaman’s Stories talk about feeling the tug between two places – one that feels like home and one that is dutifully home. It took me back to my own crossroads when I was the age he is at now. I was torn between two cities.
Freshly minted adult in a dirty metropolis, I was charmed by the fresh bloom of the garden city. It was the turn of the millennium and Bangalore was growing up from its staid retirement home roots, wide-eyed as I was, about an exciting future. I really wanted us to be together. It seemed Bangalore did too. The pollen never hurt my allergies, the boys loved me and in a gentler way than I had experienced. The accent sat easy on my ears and didn’t grate like the warring political tones of Bombay/Mumbai. Bangalore had coffeeshops that served internet. And pubs that played Pink Floyd. It was flowers, cigarettes, love poetry & rock music, a brave new world, a brand new me.
I tried, I really did. But the year of reckoning, I caught a flu in the Bangalore weather. The city had no jobs for me. Friendships turned sour. I found myself standing in the rain, as sick as the monsoon I knew from what I had left behind. At that time, Mumbai threw me a lifesaver. A job. A career. A purpose. A network. A blog. An identity. A life.
I had to make peace with my broken dreams. I had to come to terms with a failed life story. I had to align with a me very different from what I’d imagined. I had to return defeated, to the hard city I had kicked away. Mumbai is never kind but it is always generous. Those were the paths that led me to love the island city.
I have never forgotten the garden city at the turn of the millennium. Mumbai will never be that and even Bangalore is not that any more. But loving one taught me about myself and learning to love the other brought me to my self.