Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Home Sweet Home

I would admit that I am not well traveled in India. I have never been to the east or the west of India. To list the names of states I have traveled wont be a daunting task for me. Starting from the top, I have been to J&K, HP, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP, AP and Karnataka. Once, I have been to Jaipur and once to Chennai. I think that summarizes my travels in India. Sometimes when I think about it, I feel that I have seen more cities outside India than in India. I feel ashamed sometimes when foreign people ask me questions about places in India which I am not able to answer. Foreigners seemed to have traveled more than me :)

Being born and brought up in Dilli, the north part of India was mostly covered to meet friends and family or as respite from the summer heat in vacations. Since I did my undergraduate studies from a university in Karnataka and used to actively participate in the inter-college basketball competitions for my university, therefore I got to see many cities there. AP comes in the list above because my mother's family lives there and therefore most of my summer vacations during school days were spent there.

I had always thought that if I ever plan to settle anywhere in India, it would be either one of the two cities, Chandigarh/Mohali or Hyderabad (Shimoga in Karnataka also comes close). One can say, I am biased because I have families in both cities or  that I have hardly seen India but whatever the experience I had, I would go with these two places. Of course, I will point out my reasons as well.  

Let me take Shimoga first. I had been there only once but it was like love at first sight. I have seen very few places which are so close to their tradition. Or at least the parts of Shimoga I saw were drenched in tradition. Most of the people I saw on roads were wearing traditional dresses. Men in while shirts and the golden bordered lungis. Women in white and off white sarees neatly plated. The houses I saw there attracted me the most. The thatched roof houses with big courtyards, the broad wooden door frames which makes you hop in or out, palm trees all around, the weather. All these features had a kind of magnet effect on me. But since its a totally different culture than mine, I feel I might not be the best fit for that place.

There is no doubt in the fact that Chandigarh is one of the most well planned city. Wide and clean roads, easily navigable, good traffic sense and strict rules. I think this is one of the few places where I have seen police giving tickets to people irrespective of their backgrounds. Politician or millionaire, if you break the rules, you pay, simple. I don't think, I have ever seen a traffic jam inside the city. The city of Rose Garden, Rock Garden, PEC and the famous Sector 17 Market. I personally feel that this place does not matter much if you are from middle class or a millionaire. Everyone seems to gel in well since the majority seems educated. It reflects a lot from the place. A happy and lively city, I would say. 

Then comes Hyderabad. The city of Charminar and Software, offering quite an unusual blend. I have seen that city growing over the last 20 years and I can say it is totally different now to the one which serves my memory. The city is like a true Metropolitan where a person can decide where to live according to his taste. There is the old city which has a charm of itself. Narrow, congested alleys, vibrant markets, the accent of Hindi and the Charminar standing right in the middle of all this. On the other side there is the upscale, high end Banjara Hills for the rich near the Hi-Tech City. Posh colonies, expensive schools, beautiful houses. Ideal place for politicians, film industry people and industrialists. Then, they also have a huge cantonment area at the other end of the city where my mom's family lived. Vast areas of open land, awesome roads, fresh air and completely secure. If you are an early riser, then you can see army men jogging on the roads in their discipline. But, the most striking thing I feel about the place is the simplicity and the down to earth nature of its people. There is no pomp and show, no extravagances in life. People wearing simple clothes and women sporting a nice bunch of fresh Jasmine flowers in their hair. I have seen above middle aged people speaking English, intellectually discussing everything from Cricket to Politics while sitting on the train station floor. I might be generalizing and oversimplifying things here but this is how I like to remember that city.

Incidentally, both the places I mentioned above are twin cities: Hyderabad/Secunderabad & Chandigarh/Mohali.

P.S: I am talking about these places as they were 10 years back. Definitely things have changed over the years and its a completely different ball game now.


Chintan Gupta said...

Currently, I would rather be where I am :) Earlier I was fascinated with Bangalore, now that has faded away :)

the.orchestra.of.life said...

I think ... I would say the same about myself :) ... above was just my nostalgia speaking ... I reckon now there is hardly much difference between cities :)

Neha said...

Hyderabad traffic is crazy now! Haven't been to Chandighar in years so no idea how things are there now.
I am a Dilliwali too and a big city girl - can't dream of living in smaller places for too long.

the.orchestra.of.life said...

You are right Neha, I was in Hyd a couple of years back and the traffic plus the pollution levels really surprised me. The people also seem to have lost that innocence they once had :|

the.orchestra.of.life said...

... and dilli to fir dilwalo ki hi hai :D

Vetrimagal said...

Sad! We have a lost an admirer.:-(

But it is still with good people. People are nice and easy to get along.
I am at home here with all its problems.

the.orchestra.of.life said...

I am still an admirer, Vetrimagal and like the people there. I am just wary of the new generation there :)