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I've Started Opening Up To Bengaluru. Maybe We'll Be Friends One Day

08/07/2016 8:28 AM IST | Updated 16/07/2016 1:08 AM IST
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"Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler. Depending on the city and on the traveler, there might begin a mutual love, or dislike, friendship, or enmity. Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected." -- Roman Payne, Cities & Countries

How does one fall in love with a city?

It was easy six years ago, when I was naive, poor and single, and landed in New Delhi. From making friends (who were equally naive, poor and single) to finding a home (a PG, a flat, a barsati), they were the series of adventures that made me fall in love with "Dilli". I didn't care it was the world's most polluted city, I didn't care about the ogling men and I didn't care about the blazing summers.

"You did say that you were the exact 'armpit height' that made you inevitably prone to inhaling different people's body smells when travelling in the metro," my sister reminds me all the way from Washington DC, on Google Hangouts.

Fine. Apart from the "armpit height" phenomenon, I fell in love with Delhi.

One of the most difficult things about acclimatising to a city is getting used to its culture.

But it was a whole different ball game in November 2015 when I moved to Bengaluru for good, because I was now a grown up, married person with only a handful of friends in the new city.

Relatives, guests, parents, friends, cousins, all went home, and I was left behind.

Where should I go for a walk? Which is the most "happening" part of town? Is there a comfy coffee shop nearby? Why do I smell idlis everywhere? Is that a road weaving around potholes?

One of the most difficult things about acclimatizing to a city is getting used to its culture. As a Kannadiga, who has been born and brought up in Pune, I am married to a Maharashtrian, who was born and brought up in Bengaluru. While I am a proud Puneri, he's in love with his Bangalore (he refuses to call it Bengaluru).

For the first few months, my father refused ship my car from Pune to Bengaluru, lest I go all NASCAR in my Tata Nano. My husband encouraged me to travel in cabs, you know, "Until you get to know the city better." It is only now that I realise that both my husband and my father were conspiring against me, because they (still) think I'm a bad driver.

I would make plans with my husband but our jobs, weather and sometimes laziness got the better of us.

"Our weekly offs don't coincide."

"That place is too far away."

"Naah, I'm not into South Indian food (no, I am not)."

"I can't drink coffee in a steel glass."

"That restaurant is too shady."

Yes, all first world problems.

It was when we moved into our new house that I realised that shutting myself up from all the new things, just because they were new, wouldn't help.

It was when we moved into our new house that I realised that shutting myself up from all the new things, just because they were new, wouldn't help.

From the rangoli on freshly washed porches, to lovely green trees everywhere, Bengaluru could be a pretty sight from the limited perspective of my home.

But it was only when my husband, who works in the real estate sector, took me to one of his almost-complete buildings, all the way to the 20th floor, that I really saw Bengaluru.

With the warm winter breeze fluttering around my hair, I saw the whole city glittering beneath my feet.

I couldn't see any potholes, I couldn't smell idlis, and I didn't feel the need for caffeine.

Looking at me, my husband let me have this moment.

After a few minutes, I turned to him and smiled.

"Come over here," he called me, wanting to show me the top of a temple.

"Let's do a Titanic pose, please," I begged.

He sighed and complied.

Just because I saw the sparkling lights of Bengaluru beneath my feet doesn't mean that this city and I have become friends. It still irritates me sometimes with its honking, the rash driving, and the innumerable chain restaurants that serve only idlis and vadas.

But Bengaluru and I are getting to know each other. From outings with colleagues, to rummages at cheap bookstores, finding that perfect coffee shop, planning our outings around the happy hours at bowling alleys, shopping at gigantic cash-and-carry stores to enjoying fresh coconut water available at every corner, I think we'll get along pretty well.

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