Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Day I Fell in Love with New York

I believe that if you are ever going to love a city you are living in, that realization will hit you quite suddenly some day, when nothing particularly noteworthy has happened. I fell in love with Bombay when I was 11. I was sitting on my balcony (I was on the floor) and it was pouring- the slanting, barely visible type of rain which sprays all around the main droplet's trajectory. I was reading The Junior Anthology of Poems which was the Poetry text for English Literature in 6th standard, and daring as I was at age 11, I was reading beyond the prescribed syllabus. I think it was Lochinvar or Lord Ullin's Daughter (definitely one of those romantic ones with a dashing hero). And quite suddenly, I glanced up, looked at the rain and realized I loved this city from the depths of my soul or some much. It was like this surge of joy and gratitude to just be in it.

Bangalore was a little more complex. I was quite certain I liked the city the minute I stepped out of the plane and it was about 12 degrees cooler than Delhi (where I had been staying for about 3 months before going to Bangalore) was that July. But there was a bit of a love-hate phase (love when the campus was all green and fresh,  when the sky was orange in the evenings and sometimes even at night, when it became a little chilly in the evenings in the way only Bangalore evenings can be; hate, well, in summers in a cramped hostel room without an AC, during project submissions, when it drizzled every time I had to go to the Acad block and even when I was making the twice-a-trimester trip to the library). I think I truly fell in love with Bangalore in my 5th year, on a solitary smoke trip to Nagarbhavi (the sky of course, was orange, and it was chilly). And I sat outside Hegde, listening to something on my pod (I think it was the Juno sound-track) and I looked around me and well, it just happened. I wanted to give the city a hug and never leave it.

I've been in New York for a little over a month, and I don't know if I should be surprised it happened so soon or whether, by New-York-awesomeness standards, even this was late. People have been asking me the last couple of weeks how New York is, whether I am having the time of my life and so forth, and though I was embarrassed to say it out loud, I didn't really think it was as amazing as every piece of literature, movie, song and conversation on the general subject makes it out to be. I mean, it's got great energy, it's got tonnes of stuff happening all the time. It's always up and about, super-efficient, super-diverse. But I think I liked it more because I was expected to like it - I didn't really have an opinion of my own. And as usual, it didn't take anything fabulous to make an impression.

Today, I was ambling around college, considering whether to buy a new pack of smokes or go to the library and study. The weather was lovely, it had been raining in the morning and it was really cool and windy. The smokes won, and I decided to go to the road behind the law school building, where I hadn't gone thus far. So I walked down the road, took a left, and suddenly, there was this park which was built along a hill- not the randomly undulated hilly terrain appearing all over the city's roads (most inconveniently located, among other locations, on my walk from home to college), but a proper, almost cliff-like sloping hill. I gasped (I really did) and walked into the park, climbing down a long-winding set of stairs. There were stairs and slopes and trees and running tracks. There was an enormous squirrel which crawled up to me from behind. An old man running. A couple walking their baby and their dog- the baby was in a pram, to which the dog's leash was tied. A girl applying lip-balm on her boyfriend's lips or wiping away something from them. I walked around for a long time. It started drizzling again, and I climbed back up and sat on a bench which overlooked the slope. I pulled out my last cigarette from the old pack and smoked it. And I felt the magic of the city creep up on me. Sitting there, I dreamed of infinite possibilities, of castles, of winding rivers, of beautiful music and moving literature. And somehow, the city felt like a meeting-point of all these, a crazy mix of everything under the sun that I had ever thought about, could ever think about and of stuff I wouldn't ever understand or imagine. It was like being enveloped into a phenomenon, chronicling history while making it and silently observing it. The wind blew sharply, I took the last drag. I was acutely alone, but I didn't feel lonely. Today, I fell in love with New York. 


barty said...

It's only fair, New York is the Bombay of the US. Everyone will tell you that I have that backwards, but it isn't true. Also, baarish.

I was quite frankly bored by the movie Dhobhi Ghaat trying as hard as it was to be an artsy flick, but the shots of Bombay in the rain defied words. And then I went through mini-depression at the thought of the next time I'll see the monsoons.

Bhavya said...

Haha I usually say New York is like Bombay and then quickly correct it to the other way round for fear of coming across as a Bombay bigot. Good to know you feel the same way :) I actually really liked Dhobi Ghat after the first ten very pretentious minutes

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