Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Relocation Tales

Sometime in the earlier half of this year, my mom was taken unwell (much improved now); subsequent examination/investigations concluded that it would be better if she weren't to live alone anymore. And since she is more comfortable with the city where she has been living since 1983, I decided to move back home.

I moved out in 1995 and have since been living away from home, first in New Delhi and then in Mumbai. It's been a long 16-years away, living independently, my own life, so to speak. Living in a metro, Mumbai, have kind got used to the conveniences and life in the big city, so moving back does entail a lot of adjustment.

Relocation Tales, as the title says, is my slightly whimsical, sometimes sarcastic take on my experiences ever since I returned to my hometown, Allahabad.

The difference between the two cities, Mumbai and Allahabad, could not be more stark. One is the financial capital of the country, the other rests mostly on forgotten glory, even as it is home to Uttar Pradesh High Court or the Allahabad High Court, as it is more commonly known, Anand and Swaraj Bhavans (homes to/of the erstwhile Nehru family) and yes, that once-famed, Oxford of the East, the University of Allahabad.

One is vibrant, ever on the move, never sleeps, the other shuts down by 9Pm, has no night life to speak of, no pubs/discs. One is hectic, people always on the move chasing after dreams, running hither and thither (a purposeful run, mostly for work), the other laid-back, time moves slowly, mostly inhabited by retirees, an army town also, wide roads, greenery. Oh yes, the Judges of the High Court, top businessmen, doctors, professors comprise the creme-d-la-creme.

And, yet lest you think so, this is not a ghost town, it is indeed alive. Alive and living, expanding and growing. Every auto marque you can think has a presence here, from Ford, to Hyundai, Honda, Toyota; goes without saying that Maruti is definitely present. Big names, WestSide, FabIndia, Big Bazaar, Nokia, Sony, Liberty, HP, ICICI, HDFC, StanChart, IndusInd, ING, are there, too. The Old nestles with the new, sometimes in harmony, others not so.

I have to admit I do not recognize my hometown, it has changed and how, the march of progress has put its stamp on the city; I cannot help but rue the loss of open spaces, order and harmony (structural, development, urban planning). Stores, i once knew and frequented are no more, landmarks have changed, none more poignantly so than BN Rama (there is debris of a pulled down building where BN Rama once stood), the corner seems desolate without it.

The Civil Lines I so fondly frequented has changed and indeed expanded beyond recognition. I could easily get lost there :( But, as the wise say, Time marches on, progress whether it seems planned or unplanned will have its sway. All is not lost, however, the city thrives. The numbers of young people out there has certainly increased.

I hope to be able to update this series of the blog frequently, starting off with the day of my return.

To begin, there are some things/aspects of Allahabad life that could be called a standard. The city is controlled in tandem by two deities, Lady Power and Lord Water. The two indeed govern this city hand in hand, side by side. Daily routine, therefore follows their diktats. Precisely at 9.30am (summers) and 10am (winters) Lady Power makes her first exit of the day and Lord Water obediently follows. Sometimes, when she is in a very generous frame of mind, Lady Power bestows her blessings on the city's denizens before 1pm (sometimes, just sometimes :)! ). Lord Water, however, does not return. He blesses the city with his presence again at maybe 2pm (rarely), more often post 4.30pm and fortunately then stays on till night. Of course, it goes without saying, should Lady Power decide to take a break, Lord Water trots off after her dutifully. The city's denizens therefore are a practiced lot when it comes to following a strict routine. Consequently, the level of the conversational volume does tend to be a lil on the higher side, and why not, with all the generators contributing the background music :P

Lady Power and Lord Water (LP &LW) are likely to make repetitive and frequent appearances in my updates and therefore it seems only fair they be introduced here :P

More later, for the now, I take myself off to spend some time with my mom, conversations, exchanges, which undoubtedly will be punctuated by moments when we cover our ears with our hands, since it is Diwali eve and crackers, oh well, it is crackers' time!

On that note, wishing all readers and fellow country folk (and all those who celebrate) a Happy, prosperous Deepawali :-)


zenrainman said...

Nice blog. Look forward to the diary as it motors along.

Aditya said...

Cities do this to people. What I am waiting for is a comparison of all the eateries that you have left behind and the ones that you are going to embrace now! Now, that would be one lip smackin' read!

KayKap said...

@Aditya, Thanks for stopping by. Have not had too much of an opportunity to re-explore old haunts or check out new ones, but will definitely add those in too. Planning a trip with my camera sometime to capture the 400-yr-old road and yes, Khusroo bagh. Oh, at the moment, the heady, intoxicating smell of those gorgeous, famed guavas is heavy in the air, and yes, they can be got at every chappa, kinara and chauraha :-). And afore you ask, yep, I am biting into them daily with relish :P