It has been a month since I left Chennai (the greatest city on Earth) for a job in Gurgaon (read Gud-gawn) and the city has already put me through a whirlwind of emotions. Being a spoilt Chennai vaasi the distinct flavor of the North was appalling at first. The common man’s bladder sets off at the sight of a wall. The lack of color is made up for by the salivary coat of paan and tobacco. I do not deny the existence of such artists in the South but I haven’t seen as many. If you have travelled in a share auto you’d imagine that, logically, the maximum allowed capacity of the vehicle is 8.But I have had the opportunity, misfortune rather, of travelling with 15 other co-passengers! The guy who smokes his beedi no matter who is around, the woman who has three children and is barely in her twenties and the ‘chick’ who sits on your lap are regulars in the auto. Traffic rules have been done away with and the roads have descended into complete anarchy. Road accidents and the fights ensuing them are a common sight. Pollution levels are so high that a stroll on the street will result in the deposition of a thick black layer of dirt on your clothing. These glaring imperfections irked me for over a week and I was sinking deep into a state of depression.
And one evening when I was hunting for paying guest accommodations (which was, back then, a part of my routine) my entire perspective about moving to this crazy city changed. An old couple, who ran the paying guest accommodation which I wanted to enquire about, coaxed me into having dinner with them without asking if I was going to move in or if I was even interested !All this because, I’m far away from home! I knew for a fact that they were not feigning to lure me into taking up their accommodation, because they are very well to-do. Due to other circumstances we couldn’t move into their place but that meal opened my eyes to the fact that no matter how disparate North India and South India are the undeniable truth is that we are all part of one large country with common traditional values. All the time when I was cribbing about how wonderful Chennai was and how different Gurgaon is from Chennai I had been overlooking the fact that we as people are the same. We have always welcomed our guests with open arms. (We overdo it by extending the hospitality to terrorists and refugees but that is a different story) I realized that people define cities and not its infrastructure. Of course there are a few people here who are unpleasant but practicality suggests that it is better to be grateful for the good and ignore the rest.
So, the city now seems to be a lot cleaner. The share autos are not crowded; the way I see it, they’re running at ‘optimum’ capacity to save fuel for our future generations! And everyday I have pointless conversations with total strangers because I’ve learnt that people here love to talk and are totally uninhibited, which I personally love.
There is always home away from home. We just have to look for it.