I suppose it’s safe to say my honeymoon period in Bangalore is done. At least as far as tolerating (turning a blind eye) the shit show that the city is, goes. On the one hand, being closer home has been all kinds of beneficial. Satisfying, happy-making, revelatory, even.
It was such an exciting challenge to be back in a city, so close to home. And the challenges and newness of it all occupied my focus. Coming back to Bangalore made me face a lot of the things I didn’t even know I had run away from, and that has been a whole other journey in itself. I’ve had my fair share of closing the loop on many things, lots of recognising unfinished business and acknowledging it if not beginning to finish it, lots of owning up to many of my demons in hiding. And best of all, entering into a phase that has seen me making peace and feeling the happiest I have ever been.
For our desires to give our business a shot too, this was a crucial move. To be out here in a competitive space, where standards are so far from the ones we had and knew in Goa. It’s been both eye-opening as well as reassuring to know where we stand.
As far as family goes, moving away happened so fast at a time when I was so very young, naive and otherwise occupied with keeping my sanity in a new marriage living with my in laws, that I never really processed the subconscious push and pull that possibly really drove me away from Bangalore. On the surface it was about work and the like, but really, it was so much more. So much more that I am only coming to understand now. In the process I’ve had to recognise and re-integrate facets of myself that I had ignored, denied myself of and just never allowed to shine through.
I have a new found love and adoration for my family. My own, as well as the one I am married into. I’m finding new levels of acceptance I didn’t know I am capable of. It’s been an essential learning of resilience, empathy and gratitude. And I’m convinced it is the kind of learning that wouldn’t not have happened in theory, over a distance.
There is no better place than here, and no better time than now for me to be working these things out for myself. All in all this was a very necessary and timely move for us. I know this now, one year down.
And what a honeymoon it has been. Months of easing myself into everything slowly, taking time off from work like I haven’t ever done before, making and breaking and remaking friendship, revelling in the togetherness of being in such close proximity to my mother father and sister — all of this has created for me the best time and space to focus on my self-improvement. It has consumed my focus was for most of the last twelve months.
That has ensured that I was mostly distracted from the shitty mess that this city is, because I also made mad attempts to stay focused on the good, on the reason why we’re here, and the good things that have come out of it.
Now, with enough time having flown by, the creaky everyday mundanities are in full-swing, and the rhythm of life set, I’m slowly beginning to feel the opening scratchy strains of a strange kind of melancholy about my surroundings.
Now that I’ve been back long enough, a yellow-y mouldy jadedness has well and truly caught up with me. It started with waking up one day and suddenly realising just how extremely noisy my neighbourhood always is. It seems like this city is always in massive states of construction. Drilling, tile cutting, wall breaking, carpentry — on any given day I hear at least 3 of these noises for a good length of time. This, in addition to the burgeoning traffic just outside my home. My folks have lived on this street for upwards of 30 years now, and so we have watched the neighbourhood morph from a quiet by-lane of old-time Bangalore to the monstrosity it is today with larger-than-necessary buses zipping down, horns blaring, two wheelers snaking through dangerously, the constant loud chatter of people.
Slowly, the traffic is getting to me. Not just the volume and the unruliness, but the brazen way in which all laws seem to be null and void. I resent and feel physically helpless that a large part of driving in this city is about constantly taking chances — chances at a signal, chances at every turning, chances with getting past pedestrians.
That’s not all — the air quality is significantly worse. My allergies have flared up ten fold since I’ve been back. And I’ve been on three antibiotic courses in the last year, with a sore throat and cold attacking me on the dot once every four months. This is four times more than the average illnesses I’ve had in Goa.
OH, oh, oh, most of all I marvel at how so much of the shittiness I talk about has been this shitty since I left nearly ten years ago. It’s almost like absolutely no improvement is to be seen, and things have only gotten progressively worse. How can Silk Board still be a nightmare, for example? How is the quality of power still so terrible? One gust of wind before a summer shower is still enough to knock the power out for a couple of hours — this happened multiple times every day, for the last five days in our home.
Bangalore is a glorified, overgrown village, at best, masquerading as a city, with large swathes of people deeply in denial.
When I was tiring of the village life in Goa, I imagined that being in a big city would have certain definite advantages. It does, I wont lie — I LOVE that I don’t have to step out of my home for most things. A lot of my requirements come to my doorstep. Most everything is accessible online. And for everything else, there is Dunzo. But, I cannot help but feel the workings of all of this is still so small-town. Nothing is 100% efficient. Nothing is 100% dependable. This big-small difference between not having access to these facilities in Goa and having them here in Bangalore is that in Goa I’d just get out and get shit done myself. In Bangalore, when systems fail (and they do, a fair bit) the option of getting out is SO daunting because one has to think about traffic, parking, and invest at least an hour for the smallest chores. It doesn’t feel like this is a big city at all some times.
Slowly, I’m realising that something or the other is beginning to nag me. The people. The sheer number of people gets to me some days. Some days I long for the open spaces. I think back wistfully to my street in Goa where I’d drive out and immediately hit third and fourth gear in my car. I don’t get to do that very often in Bangalore. I get out of my gate and hit a speed hump.
Slowly, I’m realising that not a single day goes by when at least one or two things make me very vehemently think FUCK WHAT HAVE WE DONE, WHY DID WE COME BACK TO THIS, loudly, in my head.
It takes a lot of effort to constantly remind myself of the real reasons, focus on the good and bubble wrap and protect my brain from the shit here — whether it’s the environmental damage, the insane traffic, the widespread construction, the completely apathetic citizens — Bangalore is really, really falling apart and there’s no denying that. Realising all of this and being a citizen here makes me feel so extremely helpless.
I take solace in knowing that we never meant for this to be a destination in itself. It was always meant to be merely a stepping stone to a future we’re yet to discover. But if I’ve learned anything at all from the uncertainties of the last three years of my life if is to try and not cast anything in stone, not even my aversions or dissatisfaction.
I’m waiting for a day when I feel like this to materialise. Meanwhile, I’m going with the flow.