It’s always a bit overwhelming to step out of Goa and land in a bigger city. Quite like the surge you feel when you stick your feet into a cold pool of water, before diving straight in. You know what’s coming, and yet that first biting instant gives your shivers, shaking you out of your skin, in more ways than one.
It happens to me every time I head to Bangalore. A few days ago I felt it when I landed in Bombay. And yesterday I felt it almost as soon as I exited the Delhi airport and our taxi merged into the blur of traffic as we bumped down the highway towards Gurgaon.
I sit here in a busy cafeteria, tucked away in a steel and grey building. One of many in the monolith that is Gurgaon. People walking in and out. Women in their crisp formals, clicking and clacking their high heels, men in their quintessential office wear, coffee machines spraying hot liquids to keep them going, access cards beeping to track their every move. Right before I came to Goa, I worked in an environment exactly like this. But it seems that now, Goa keeps me cosy in a little bubble. Happy to be cocooned in here, I rarely realize just how isolated I sometimes get. The reality hitting me only when I step out. So every time I travel to Bangalore or Bombay, I feel a weird tug-o-war between the quiet greens of Goa and the big city life, each offering tempting bait to jump over. Goa yanking me back from stepping over, with this lovely peaceful happy life; and most big cities luring me with things like easy access to services, finding anything I want in a jiffy and a general sense of energy and quickness that I sometimes sorely miss.
Despite all its drawbacks, some more real than others, every journey longer than a few days gives me that I-want-to-go-home yearning. And with every trip out I feel it even more. Because when I come back home, the sense of relief and comfort seems to grow. The truth is, there are things I miss about being in a big city. I miss having a reliable broadband service, I regret the horrible luck I’ve had with health and doctors since I came here. The hostile, anti-immigrant locals I sometimes meet make me sad. The way everything is perpetually on slow-mo and on holiday is frustrating. I miss my hair-dresser. I miss home-delivery. I miss coffee shops. I miss my parents, some of my friends. But despite all that I have accepted Goa for what it is. Because it’s what makes Goa, Goa. It’s what makes it different from anywhere else. It’s what makes quick shorts visits back home meaningful, fun, and just perfect. Because even with all its imperfections, Goa has given me a life I couldn’t have had anywhere else. At a time when I needed it the most. Goa has given me a roof over my head, a means to earn a living, a life beyond compare. It has brought me closer to the husband and given me a chance to unravel and change the very nature of my marriage. It has given me friends of all ages, blog-dosts, work-dosts and everything in between. It has given me quietude and stillness.
Goa has given me a life, quite unlike the big city life. And if I had to choose, I’d willingly give up a high-flying career, all the money that comes with it, all the proximity to family, home delivery, hair-dressers, coffee shops, everything, for this. In a flash.
Edited to add: This was written close to 2 weeks ago, when I spent a day in Gurgaon. An incomplete draft, it lay in a word document until this weekend when I had the chance to post it. I hope that doesn’t confuse anymore people into believing I have randomly moved cities :)