Sunday, June 30, 2013

Seven Years In Bangalore

There is no Brad Pitt in this story and there is no Dalai Lama and this not as dramatic as an Austrian climber trying to take on Nanga Parbat. But it’s been very interesting to me personally…my seven years in Bangalore.

Yes, it’s been seven years since that first day of July in 2006 when I landed in this city called Bangalore. It was not my first time; it was the second and more lasting, thanks to that first 4-day visit back in 2003.

We were on an IEEE educational tour from college, back in 2003. I set foot in this city post a 30-hour train journey and loved it instantly. I don’t know what about it attracted me so much particularly back then. Today I know that it must have been the combination of all that defines this city. We visited institutions like IISc, CPRI, ISRO, Talisma by day and explored the city as evening fell. Many firsts marked that trip too…the first time I went bowling, the first time I went go-karting, my first visit to a discotheque. It was a great time, and it showed me the possibilities that life in the city held; I am sure the zeal of youth would had its own role to play in that fascination. But all in all, I decided then that this was the city that I wanted to work in and live in.

 And it was granted (another one of those dreams that came true!). I was one of the only 6 people in our batch of recruitment to get placed in Bangalore. And so began what has been a period of constant discovery, exploration, growth and learning. 

I have come to know Bangalore as a city that fosters experimentation, given the myriad things people do here in terms of their lifestyles as well as the institutions they build. And so I experimented too…with travel, writing, dancing, copywriting, theatre. And I have come to understand myself better, thanks to this experimentation. I am thankful to the city for these opportunities.

Of course the opportunities really come from the people of this place who run phenomenal institutions like Get Off Ur Ass, LRDA, iReboot, Evam (well technically Evam is Chennai but I discovered them in Bangalore), Rangashankara, BRTFF. For me, the best way to describe Bangalore and its people is

Open Minds, Open Hearts, Open Arms

I have met some of the most wonderful people in this city, including my husband, and have some very fond memories of them all. They are what makes this place so great and I am glad to have moved here and met them all. It is downright inspirational, the things that some of them do.

If I have taken to travelling, to photography, to writing freelance, to oratory, to theatre, to cycling…it has all been encouraged and inspired by some well-meaning people in a city that is easily the cycling capital, Toastmasters capital (80 clubs), eco-living capital and what not of India. This city makes you grow. It couples possibility and pace in such a beautiful manner. It is a city of communities that foster…everything. Barcamps for startups, running communities, cycling communities, travel communities, riding communities, book clubs, theatre groups, film societies, music groups and live bands…you name it and you can find a community. Groups like Second To None can thrive only in Bangalore. There is a sense of togetherness that leaves no space for snobbery. Unlike societies that revel in exclusivity, I think Bangalore and its people revel in a shared connection.

Which brings me to the mind blowing shared network that Bangalore is. Of course this sense and realization has been heightened after joining Facebook but even earlier, I always found it exciting how every new person I met was somehow connected to other people I had met in the city. This city is like a village where most people know most people. I love that!

Strangely, in a city that is called the IT hub of India and is recognized even in the West for that USP, I find the people connection to be stronger. This is a city that loves having tweet-ups and zomathons…people who interact online for a while feel the need to congregate in person for no good reason… that’s how they become friends and form bonds that last. And that’s why this city is perfect for me…it brings balance to this Libran’s life… between the virtual and the real, between work and play, between dreams and opportunities.

Like I said, not much of a story here…small-town girl visits Bangalore and gets smitten, moves to Bangalore with big-city dreams, meets wonderful people, hears unforgettable stories, visits more places in seven years than in all the 21 years before that, discovers what’s without and discovers what’s within, experiences fun-failing-frustration but becomes the best version of herself that she could be, meets the love of her life, gets married and begins the journey to happily-ever-after.

It sounds pretty everyday when stated like that but only I know how much this city has meant to me every single day and every passing year. I am leaving in 5 month’s time and it is breaking my heart. I can’t imagine it, not being here, in this lovely city. But maybe going away will make us love it even more. And the consolation is that this is where we will return when we do. 

But no matter where I am in the world, I will remain a Bangalorean. This is the city I connect to. I grew up physically elsewhere but this is where I grew up in many other respects. This is where I lived, loved and laughed for seven years. This is the city of my heart…it always has been. And for that reason, I will always love it.

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