July 26, 2013

Yours or Mine?

After a six week stay in Bangalore, India, I feel I have loads to write about. Not about all the time I have hidden away from blog land but about the experiences and thoughts during my trip back "home"(?) .

Yes the question mark says it all. Finally there is a question mark next to the word home. There were no doubts before when I associated that word with Bangalore. It was always home. But the changes to my city, if I may call it so, has left me numb. A lot of things about it has changed and there were very few things I could relate to. That is what happens when you do not stay to watch something grow I guess!

And grown it has in many ways. I was hardly shocked by the malls and high rises that have sprung up across the city, I had read about them and had more than expected such changes in a city growing at supersonic speed. But what struck me as a big change was the lifestyle people led. The attitude that drives their lives. To my mind which is stuck at Bangalore in 2002, that is a huge culture shock. I felt dated in the city, not knowing where to hang out, always talking in the wrong language at the wrong time. Constantly checking the price of things and quickly putting it down hoping nobody noticed me doing that, especially if they knew I am visiting from the "US". I felt alien there at most times. And to add to my woes on a personal front I was staying at houses I did not grow up in, areas that I did not know by rote.

For a person who was in love with her city, it was hard and I needed an outlet to vent, a target to blame. So I blamed it on the outsiders who have made the city their home. Who have shifted the local language to suit their comfort. And if you are surrounded by hard core Bangaloreans, its a feast for your mouth to talk endlessly about how your city has been taken over by these aliens.

And then something happened, during the last week of my stay, I happened to spend a couple of hours at a beauty salon attended to by the so called aliens. There were women who had come from far off states and neighboring countries in search of greener pastures. With my face taken over by masks and eyes and mouth sealed their stories were like music to my ears. One was a girl from a small village in the North East parts of India, who managed to study a little but hardly found opportunities. She was suppressed by the taunts of the villagers and finally decided to leave with her husband to this "Land of Opportunities" about three years ago. I asked her if she found what she wanted, if she was happy here. Her face lit up as she said she loves the place and plans to never leave. Her friend had a similar story and even said that the city gave her a life she had always yearned for. I thanked them and was leaving as I heard them conversing with the maid in Kannada. I turned back with surprise, they smiled and said will do anything to make this place our home.

The city that I once called mine, which I would still love to call mine, has become the "Land of Opportunities". Life hits right back at you doesnt it?