Last night we were playing This or That (because I objected to playing Never Have I Ever), and someone asked me to choose between Mumbai and Bengal. Me being me, launched into how the question was technically wrong – you can’t make me choose between a city and a state! It got switched to Mumbai or Kolkata – and I somehow dodged answering that question. But it is a question that hasn’t left my mind.
So which one do I prefer indeed?
To be honest with you, it’s not as a straightforward answer as one might imagine. Kolkata will always be my home. I will miss that city during the hustle and bustle of Mumbai. I will think about the overcrowded metros, as I fight my way into the ladies’ compartment of the local trains and I will especially miss my mother when I have to come home after a day of work in office and figure out my dinner!
I miss Gauri Di and her frowning at me and reprimanding me for having too much tea and not enough food! But at the same time, there’s an office mama who cares about the food I consume. Who is aware that I am slightly addicted to tea, and co-workers who tell me to start drinking sugar-free chai.
I always had friends in Mumbai. The kind who make impromptu plans with you, sit with you in silence at Bandstand, and take you out for karaoke nights. And co-workers who sit with you Bandstand, tell you to stop taking life seriously and help you just catch your breath once in a while.
When people ask me if I miss home – the answer would be every minute of every day! I lived a certain life since forever. And I know that I have moved out of my house a lot later than I ideally should have…but that doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate my new life. For one thing, it has taught me to be fiercely independent. I now know how to survive on Rs. 500 in a week! And how to access the public transportation system in Mumbai and not Uber/Ola it everywhere I go.
Being the kind of person I am, with amazingly romantic notions about the world and about this life – sometimes it gets hard to simply survive in this world. While I look at other people, and wonder how they survived as long as they did, I sometimes think the same thing about myself. How did I manage to survive as long as I did?
I guess the secret to life is this: you will never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have! For now, Mumbai has been a lot of fun. But I would be lying if I told you I am not secretly counting down the days to November when I get to go home after almost five months.