Living in a city is one thing, being able to make it home is another. I love travel and would have liked to live each phase of my life in a different city: childhood in one, the school days in another, do college in a new place, move to another city for a job and then keep finding reasons to travel newer places. Every city would leave a slice of itself in me and I would leave a bit of me somewhere in each of the places. What I will carry along are the many friends I made in every city, the many memories the places have gifted me, the weather that's unique to each place and yes the fragrances. Every city has its own variety of smells, aromas that give it an identity--be it the steamy, milky aroma of the filter coffee in Chennai or the almost-nauseating smell of my office canteen in Bangalore or the more appetising aromas that tickle your nose if you walk down Brigade Road/MG Road, the smell of the sea while you walk down the road in Mumbai.
I would have wished to live my life as above, but it wasn't to be so. I have had my share of short stays in some of the cities. Be it a day, a month or a year, each place that I've lived in has become my home quite easily. There is a part of me that goes home-sick at the mention of each of these places, there is a part of me that longs to back. Weekends of plays & dramas, coffee outings with friends, staying with absolute strangers, my first hostel experience, standing out on the streets with 2 loaded suitcases and 2 dear friends with no clue where to go, heart breaks, night clubs, long drives, rain dance, carol singing, girls night clubs, long drives, rain dance, carol singing, girls night outs, loads of mischief (which can't be put down here), fights, break-ups, make-ups, my first ticketless train trip in an unreserved compartment half-sitting half-standing, a variety of flavours and tastes, many many Forever Friends and so much more. Each city has gifted me suitcases of memories that I open on a rainy day or a particularly happy/sad day, rummage through, smile or shed a tear over, dust them cleam and wrap them back safely...to be opened another day.
Revisiting a place I once frequented is always an emotional experience for me. A church, a coffee shop, a mall, a beach, a park or a friend's house...each weighs heavily on my mind. A lot would have changed, it may be bigger, better, prettier now, but you'll still long to see it the way you left it, to smell the flowers you saw bloom, to see the views that you left behind. What you see is a bigger renovated church with no traces of te candles you lit or the broken benches where you sat and prayed, you enter a bigger, swankier coffee shop with a new colour theme, the message board where you put up a smiley note for your friends is no longer there, the Mall no longer has the short cartoonist who would sketch your portrait for Rs 40, the tiny eat-out by the beach that served delicious burgers for just Rs 20 has been replaced by a post eatery, the Park now closes by 6 p.m. and you can no longer take a latenight walk with your loved one/friends, and your friend has moved into a bigger apartment, the bright, airy rooms are gone and yor favourite floor cushion has been replaced by large sofas. Change sweeps it all away, gives it a new, today look.
The few places that I've lived have made me what I AM. The many cities that I wish to make my home for at least a short period will add more to ME, will gift me many more flavours, aromas, memories and friends.