It happens so often that we fall in love with the cities that we’ve been to but we seldom express how we feel about them. It bothers me sometimes that travel blogs are mostly limited to what a person saw in that place and not what he/she felt. So I decided to write about how I felt about some of the cities that I’ve been to as if they were my past lovers.
Jaipur had an aura of royalty about him. A sense of “majesticity”. Days of grandeur long gone. And yet, he was so humble whenever I approached him. For me, it was love at first sight. Once I sat with him in an unnamed and unclaimed (at least for that moment) piece of land. He let me unravel all of his deepest and darkest secrets buried under layers of history that he wore like a perfectly stitched sherwani beneath his Raymond blazer.
He inspired me. Every sight of him, every word that sprung from his mouth stirred tsunamis of poetry within me so much so that the words that he sowed into my heart and I watered with ink bloomed into my first anthology of published poems. When I was with him I didn’t want to be with anyone else. I didn’t want to be anywhere else.
When I left, I left a part of me with him with a promise to return to take back what I left behind. I did go back to him after two and a half years. And he was just as inviting and as humble as he had been. But that piece of me that I had left, I couldn’t get it back. It had become lost in him; Jaipur had made it his own.
Kolkata had this serenity wrapped around his chaos that made me feel so attracted towards him that I wanted to untangle every knot of his curled hair as if they carried some sort of mysterious wisdom that could help me save the world from being unkind. He always seemed like a time traveler who had travelled to many bygone centuries before arriving into the 21st century. There was an “archaic-ness” about him that had adapted to the modern ways. His touch felt like humidity and he sounded like thousands of voices narrating their own different experiences at the same time.
No, I didn’t fall in love with him at the first sight but the more time I spent collecting bits and pieces of his stories, weaving his words into poetry, listening the tales of his past; I couldn’t stop myself from falling for him.
And he loved me too; he loved me in a way that made me fall in love with myself. I can’t say that I know much about love but trust me when I say this, there’s no greater lover than the one who makes you fall in love with yourself.
Delhi reached out for me when I floated aimlessly like a kite cut off from where it once belonged. He was unlike any of my past lovers. He was chaotic, had so much going on in his life that I couldn’t even keep a track of it. Sometimes it felt as if he just wanted to be left alone; after all history hadn’t been too kind to him. His voice was loud; so loud that even when he whispered, the entire country knew about it. When he cried, millions of people cried with him.
Delhi was not just one person. He was so much more in one body. He was the crowded streets, the bustling bazaars, a historian keeping records of centuries, an activist fighting for women’s rights, an overcrowded metro train, and everything else that anyone could make it to be.
Whenever I returned to him, he seemed different. But there was one thing that never changed about him. HOPE. No matter how many times he fell down, he rose again. And he gave me that hope. He gave me hope to keep going on even when my soul was bruised, even when there was nothing left to be hopeful for.
Bangalore was dazzling and magnetic. There was a strange attraction that I felt for him which only grew over time. Being with him gave me so much comfort that I didn’t want to leave despite knowing that my gypsy soul wouldn’t let me stay too long. He sounded like rain falling on traffic jammed roads. His laughter was like a semicolon. Because I knew in the heart of my heart what I had with him would never be over and yet every time I returned to him it felt like a new beginning.
He felt like home; a home where I could belong as long as I wanted to; when I wanted to. I went back to him again and again. In search of myself. In search of what I had lost. In search of who I wanted to be. And he always welcomed me with a warm heart and a smile so wide that made me feel I still had the courage to conquer this world with every broken heartbeat that pulsated within me.
My first encounter with Hyderabad was only for a while. He caught my attention when I was only passing by. I held out my hand and offered him some kind words. He probably didn’t understand what I said but he returned a smile. And we talked. He told me all about his past from the Nizams and the Mughals and to the British under whose rule he had been. Little did I know during that time it was in my destiny to meet him again.
When I met him again, I couldn’t promise him a forever but told him that I was there to stay for a long time. And he welcomed me with wide open arms. I knew at that moment that I could stay as long as I wanted.
Hyderabad was difficult to understand. We didn’t speak the same language. We weren’t used to each other’s way of life. But despite everything, he never gave up on me. He made me smile. He made me laugh. He made the happiest I had ever been in a long time. But most of all, he let me be me; a young girl with the heart of a child trying to keep her insanity and passion alive in the midst of all the chaos that life is infamous for putting all of us in.