When I was in my final semester at college, my mom had the what-are-you-going-to-do-with-your-life conversation with me. I know that kinda conversation is generally a dad thing. But my dad I rarely talk about things more serious than cars/movies/politics/over-population/weather (you get the drift). So, when my mom asked me that question, I told her I wanted to work and live away from home for a while. She looked at me with a very surprised, I-didn’t-know-this-was-cooking-in-your-mind kinda look. I had no plan of action and I had no idea how I was going to support myself in another city. I didn’t even which city I wanted to move to.
As destiny would have it, I landed in Hyderabad. It’s been almost 2 years since I moved out of my parents’ house. I have shifted 4 houses in less than 2 years (I’m thinking of starting a packers and movers firm. That’s my secret ambition). I’ve accumulated an awful load of stuff that I had no clue about till I had to pack all of it to shift into my new place. I’ve had horrible experiences with some of my roommates. I’ve also found 2 darling roommates for whom I’m extremely thankful. Bad landlords, nosey watchmen, inquisitive caretakers, rude neighbors, noisy kids who’ll never let you sleep on a sunday morning, I’ve seen them all.
I’m at home in this city now. I will even go as far to say that I like Hyderabad. I loved living away from home when I first got here. I went for my first night show movie after I came here. The freedom to do whatever I wanted was heady. But that magic fizzled out in less than 2 months. The grim truth after that is that there were times when I had to go back to an empty/dark house, with no one to share the day’s gossip with (when I was living alone, not now), no more of throwing dirty dishes into the sink or used towels where I liked. While I wasn’t quite spoilt at home, these were things I’d never especially worry about. At times, I still think none of this is worth it, the money, the independence, the work, nothing. There are days when I just want to chuck everything and take the first train back home.
Living alone has not taught me to keep my room tidy or pay my bills on time or “plan” stuff out. What it helped me realize is that I love home more than any place else. It’s actually taught me to appreciate a lot of things my parents have done for me. Like the dinner that’s on the table every night on time. Now I know it’s not a joke to work the entire day and cook for a bunch of people who don’t appreciate it. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop complaining 🙂 I’ll probably think twice before complaining. I’ve realised that I’m a total tam brahm at heart who can’t eat pizzas for lunch for more than a day and will be the happiest when I can get vathakozhambu and vazhakai curry!
I’ve also realised that I can never love any city as much as I love Madras. Neither can I get to know any other city as well. The moment I land at the station/airport and start fighting with the autokarans, I feel at home. It’s a weird thing to say, but to me these are the things that define my hometown. The place I’ve grown to love with all it’s flaws and shortcomings. For me Madras is home and that’s where my heart is.