I was listening to some of my favourite Tamizh songs this morning. These are songs that I sort of grew up listening to. These were songs off tapes that we had and would usually play in the car stereo while on a long drive, usually to Chennai (Madras at that time and for a long while afterwards in our heads). This morning was a flooding of memories and reminiscent smiles. It made me want to go back down South. It made me realise that there are probably 3 cities in my limited experience and sheltered existence that I could live in. And here are my desert island top three cities that I can live in: Bengaluru (erstwhile Bangalore, still is in our heads), Chennai and New Delhi.
Bangalore is home and hence is the easiest to move to and settle down. That however increases the chances of my slipping back into the comfortable routine and will result in a lot of time being spent doing nothing or watching TV (which almost amounts to the same thing). Personal freedom would also take a beating. Hence, I cannot move back to Bangalore with a normal job. It's got to be something that will keep me on my toes all the time, combine a vast majority of my varied interests and be creatively (and financially) fulfilling. I thought of moving back to start my own cafe (called Jupiter Cafe as a tribute to Thermal And A Quarter). It'll be a 'social cafe', for lack of a better defining term. The green, healthy lifestyle will be promoted and will form the underlying theme for the entire cafe and its activities. If you bike (the pedalling variety, not the motorised kinds) to my cafe, you will receive a discount. I'm thinking of also starting a 'smoking charity' that will tie-in with the cafe. I'm trying to figure out how to get Bangaloreans, who know so precious little about their city, to know more about their environs and make a difference. Is an early morning heritage cycle or walk the answer? Or is there any other way, or a broader road? It's difficult to conceptualise this sitting in Delhi. I will also spend my time writing. I'm currently working on one and have another one waiting in the pipeline.
Chennai is like second home to me, and has been all my life. It's 300-odd km away from Bangalore and we would always be driving down. Considering my Tamilian heritage, it's hardly surprising that I have family there. The above factors hence collude to make this the most dangerous city for me to move to and settle down in. Home and comfort are so close and it will be so difficult for me to resist the temptation to have everything done for me. But I would like to live in Chennai for a while. I did, for a brief four months in 2004, but that doesn't really count. I was staying at my aunt's house, which has been our home away from home for years. I like Tamizh in little infrequent doses, so the overdose that will hit me like a barrage if and when I move to Chennai isn't really welcome. However, if I insulate myself from it well enough by ensuring that I get enough English and good Hindi music and movies, I think I should be able to do pretty well for myself. However, I'm not too sure if I want to raise a family and bring up my kids here. Read why here.
New Delhi is where I currently am at. It's a nice city and all that, and I can actually envision myself living here. However, this is another city where I'm not too sure if I want to raise a family, and more importantly, bring up my kids. The reasons, while not exactly echoing the sentiment of Chennai, fall pretty much along the same lines. I don't want my children to think in Hindi. I want English to be their language of choice, followed by Tamizh, and then Hindi. If a foreign language creeps in there, well and good. But Delhi is huge and it has fantastic sporting and cultural opportunities. I am constantly amazed by the number of stadiums and sports complexes there are in close proximity to each other in this city.
Bangalore scores high on the cultural, language, socialisation and personal nostalgia fronts, but somehow seems to lose out on the sports and space frontiers. Chennai scores high on the personal nostalgia front, but loses out in just about everything else, except maybe a face-saving effort in the sporting department. New Delhi scores high on the cultural, sports and space fronts while losing out on the language, socialisation and personal nostalgia frontiers.
So what would be my city of choice? Why, Bangalore, but of course. But right now, I'm living in New Delhi and I'm not complaining.