As I walked to office this morning, crossing the pebble laden lane that leads to the building, I was suddenly struck with the monotone life seems to have assumed. A long day at work and a subsequent return home – or ‘room’, with no one to go back to and the surety of the next day being much the same… sometimes it gets to you. In a new city, where the only people you know and talk to are your colleagues at work, it can get horribly lonely if there’s the slightest dent to those equations. A spat with someone, some bitter words, a handful of unexplained reactions and there, you have your spirits condemned to living hell. Pune, no matter how complete and pleasing a city, doesn’t offer me the solace that Delhi did. If I have to hear ‘Punneee ka Radio City… 91.1!” once more today, I am sure I will burst into tears.
Where in Pune can I find the hustle bustle of Lajpat Nagar market, with the sight of a couple of Punjabi ladies haggling over shoes always a permanence? How can I get down from a crowded bus at South Extension and order delicious dahi bhalle at Bengal Sweet House? How can I sit by the big windowsill back in our home in Chittaranjan Park and watch the rain bring traffic to a halt? How can I giggle at sardarjis arguing with each other over car parking while also trying to keep an eye on their eight old year old menace of a Bunty? Here, there are no alu ka parathas with tomato ketchup that nani would make for me each Sunday morning. There isn’t a single kitten to fondle unlike the many that would crowd our courtyard all day. There isn’t an Ansal Plaza with its overpriced Pizza hut where we would insist on birthday treats to be given. The vain girl from across the street I would so badly try to avoid meeting isn’t anywhere to be seen. Neither are, for that matter, the friends I could shout at, the friends I could hold on to.
Delhi, of course, will always be close to my heart. No matter how polluted, how unsafe, how crowded. The city has an invincible spirit that refuses to be put down. From the auto rickshaw wallah with his pirated cassettes to a businessman e-mailing on his BlackBerry, everyone in Delhi has it – the undeniable Delhi spirit.
Sigh. I realize though that all of this has nothing to do with Pune, a fine city in so many respects. And it’s strange how I felt all alive and kicking till only a few hours ago.
Maybe it’s just been a long day.
I wish I could tear through this depressing twilight and fall asleep to reassuring dreams of good old home.