What do I mean by this?
Well, I recently moved from a place where I lived for close to three years. And because I was there for three years, I had made more than a casual acquaintance with the people that lived and worked around there - apart from regular suspects like the neighbors, the residents, I also made got to know the people that worked there - you know, the security staff, the Starbucks Baristas, the grocery guy, the chemist and so on and so forth. After all, we are but social creatures.
So when I was making the decision to move from there to a new place, far away, one big criterion was this proximity to familiarity. I mean I was like, I'd have to do a lot of work to find new connections, get familiar with people, find my permanent place at the coffee shops, etc.
Now, its been about 15 days since I made the move. And you know what? I don't miss the people or the place that I left behind. In fact, I am enjoying the new place. Not the house or space per se. But the locality that I've moved to. There is this sense of familiarity (after all we are in Mumbai, India) and there is this newness. The way it is with a new fling.
Plus, I am walking a lot more. I am seeing new people. Doing things that I would (and could) never do previously. And I think, more than anything else, Andheri is a lot more... for the want of a better word, real!
I mean the place I lived at before this (Wadhwa) and the place I hung out most often (Powai),
Here, in Andheri, I see people that are a lot more common folk. There is heat & dust, good & bad, gorgeous men & unfit women, wannabes & famous people, rich & poor and a lot more. There is more, how do I say, heterogeny here.
Back there, everyone was the same - like a friend would say, each family had 2 cars, 2 kids, 2 houses, 2 perfect bodies, 2 hobbies apart from work, 2 club memberships, 2 pets, 2 relationships (in and out of home), etc. They were so perfect that even the oldies were fitter than most people I've known in my life. Plus the issues people had there were about which car to buy - Audi or BMW. No, not Merc. The conversations I would hear over the din of life were about which new restaurant to go to for brunch and if a 15-day holiday in Europe better than that in America. I would know of the movers and shakers in the corporate world. And which actor is sleeping with which. I would not know about the dal roti ka bhao but I would know expensive the Kiwis and
Since I have moved to Andheri, the things that I come across are people postulating about what moves the country and writers courting producers for scripts that they've taken 2 years to write and students pooling money to buy that one beer. People here are hustling hard to make ends meet. I now see those numerous idli-dosa stalls at 6 in the morning and a crowd of people jostling for space even when they can't afford that 20 rupee breakfast. The restaurants I goto, the laughter seems a little more unrestricted, little more unbridled. Compare it to the suaveness of conversations around a plate that has just a morsel of food on it, often called culinary delight and artisanal. Yes, there are rich people. Probably richer - the maids are expensive here. Yes, there are as many luxury cars as I saw at Wadhwa, may be more - the largest Audi showroom is right here.
But the thing is, people here have a spring in their step. Back there, life was more leisurely. You know, brunches were more common than struggle to schedule life around when the BMC would supply water - yes there are places that do not have 24 x 7 running water. And no, I am not talking about different strata of people. The same middle-class household around here is a lot more active than it was back there. May be that wasn't middle class and I am doing apples to oranges comparison? May be the Orange in me couldn't fit in with the stack of Apples there? May be that's why I don't miss things there?
Staying on this fruity comparison, here, I can smell the real world, you know the world with all its vagaries and gifts? Some people call it the smell of Mumbai that hits them when they open the doors of the plane! There, it was all organic diffusers and Body Mists (which I dint even know existed) and Chanel's No. 5.
Of course, a lot of things are still the same. There is the same harsh sun and magnanimous clouds. But there, the place had enough space to stare at the sky. Here, when you look up, you see buildings covering you and all you get is this sliver of blue. You know, how a bird must feel when it is still trapped in the egg in the cocoon!
In fact, when I was there, I'd tell this to a friend of mine often. That they lived in a cocoon. That thought has got a lot more reinforced after I moved here. That place was indeed a cocoon. Heck, the club there was called Club Cocoon!
Thing is, this sudden move from a place where I lived for three years, to this place where I am all of 15 days old, has opened my eyes. To things that I knew all my life but was never on the surface. I am wondering, the ones that move around a lot when they're growing up, they'd have such rich experiences and opinions. They'd make such brilliant storytellers! Damn! I am jealous! Yet another thing that I did not have. Maybe if I were there, I would be better. Or maybe I wouldn't even know that I ought to be better if I were there. This thing about them being better is in my head just because I am here. There. Here. There or here. There and here.