The Role of My City in Shaping Me

The Bangalore Palace


I have been in Bangalore for one year now, on and off, as we move to and fro from our hometown in Odisha. 

I have access to the best restaurants and cuisine here. I tasted Mexican, Italian, Japanese and Korean along with Punjabi and Mughlai ones. Lip smacking goodness. And the interiors of these restaurants exude class and style and art like no other. I can take a bit from here and another tip from there for the interiors of my future home. Though there’s traffic, the street food here is from around the country, catering to most diverse palates. The theatres here show movies from several states, dubbed in Hindi and subtitles are always available in English. Recently I watched ‘Kantara’ - the latest Kannada movie phenomenon- and was bowled over by the talent of the actors, directors, cinematographers and script writers. We have access to so many varied cultures and storytelling from so many different regions. But it makes me think - I know not much of Odia folklore. It would be wonderful if I could leverage a few of popular Odia folklores that reign in the public imagination and give it a modern connotation or twist. I should explore more on this.


The locales nearby are another plus. So much of historical, ancient architecture is there around this place. Our trip to Hampi left us wanting to visit Badami caves. The closed premises of Halebeedu left us yearning for so much - We are yet to visit Halebidu and Belur. We want to visit Mahabaleshwar, and Brihadeshwar temple in Thanjavur after watching Ponniyin Selvan. The grandeur of the Cholas is depicted in that temple which is more than a 1000 years old. And just a while back I added Padmanavaswamy temple in Trivandrum. Not sure women are allowed inside it. There are so many temples to visit and explore, so many to see. This city lets us explore. There is inspiration here. And a sense of wonderment. Our visit to Coorg made me miss Ooty, and the Coonoor trip with my friends. Wayanad, Kumarakom, Kodaikanal -  want to visit it all. Want to delve into a bit of spirituality after reading ‘Karma’ by Sadhguru. Want to meditate and visit Isha Yoga Center one day too.


And our work allows us a two day weekend. That’s another added advantage. We toil for 5 days a week and explore the city and around for the next two days, taking in days of rest and recuperation in between. There’s laundry, dusting and deep cleaning to be done as well. There are so many shopping stops around the city. We had bought 13 sarees from Pothys last year for home, the famous 7-storied mega shop for sarees. South silk has a different sheen. We have so many events taking place - exhibitions of some kind, curios, book fairs, gardening needs. There’s always something happening. Art is full fledged. 


My husband and I always argue why Bangalore is my favourite city and Mumbai is his. And it's difficult to reach any conclusion in this matter. Both cities have people from around the country, both are an amalgamation of cultures and tastes and vibes. Youngsters on the roads. The population of youth is huge. And we have started feeling old.


The only thing we miss time and again is home. Especially during festivities. The home cooked food, the delicacies, sweetmeats, the rituals, the whole getting ready for clicking pictures. There is such joy and happiness in being together with family. Missing though, is a part of life. It gives meaning to memories. And we value the deep attachment only after we leave for a while. 


So how has my current city shaped me- I have become more open to experimenting and exploration. During our evening walks we explore bylanes of this electronic city where the big traffic dwindles, we find piping hot ginger tea, a soothing option for the rain drenched cold evenings. We find desi fruits unavailable over online grocery delivery apps. We bag a few ‘rasam mix’ , ‘badam podi’, and other South Indian masala mixes and condiments. It’s fun experimenting with recipes during weekends. 


My city has let me have solo me-time. Ample of them. He would go to Mumbai once a month and I would over indulge in books, movies and journaling. It has helped me understand how deeply I value people. It is tough to live alone. Gone are the days when we were in college, everyone was free, unmarried, with a lot of time in hand, and we would revel among ourselves, enjoying the company and gossip. Now, each to his own. All my friends are away in different cities, and here it’s so difficult to make new friends. Too much solo time is a tad lonely. I should blog more often. I have realised that I cannot settle down here, I need to be near my parents in the longer run. It has made me realise that wonderment can be achieved locally as well. Odisha has too many places I haven’t been to yet. There are too many different cuisines I haven’t tasted yet. I hope to travel to Sambalpur, Burla, Koraput, Malkangiri and explore my state in the coming years. People gawk at me when I say I haven’t been to Chilika yet. Kalijai temple. 


The lovely weather of my current city is world famous. Okay world famous in India. Bangalore has the loveliest weather all year round. Not too cold, not too hot, not too rainy like Mumbai is. Only a few lakes remain in this lake city, but thankfully weather has not changed drastically over the years. There’s flora in Lalbagh, Cubbon Park and fauna in Bannerghatta National Park. Love the nature bits. But it’s not enough to compensate for the stress, the office hustle culture and the traffic. I cannot be in it for the longer haul. I have become a bit frustrated, irritated over the years, mostly after college. I blame covid years, office stress, and quarter life crisis may-be. But it’s my individual responsibility to mindfully be conscious of my reactions to situations - to internalise the happening, think and only then respond, instead of instantly reacting to it. I have been doing regular meditations and yoga for a few months now. Hope I can continue, and hope I will be more mindful in my ways.  I have too much to be thankful for in life. I practise gratitude and try to send out good homely vibes, except sometimes when I just can’t. Here’s hoping the frequency of the good vibes increases gradually. I need to be patient.




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Queeristan by Parmesh Sahani

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  Queeristan (Amazon Link) Thanks to Audible Free Trial I listened to this amazing non-fiction on LGBTQ inclusion in Indian workplaces. Author Parmesh Sahani identifies as gay Indian, working closely with Godrej higher management and employees for years to create an inclusive workplace, both legally and in spirit. This book is a result of those years of experience, research, collaboration with individuals from difference spectrum of the society and organizations who has successfully transitioned into a queer friendly one.   Indian history is inclusive. From the Khajuraho temple architectures, to Konark to the Rig Veda, there is existing proofs even 2000 years ago of Indian inclusiveness of queer. It’s the draconian British law that criminalised it, which was scraped in 2009, came into effect once again following a sad judgement in 2013 and eventually was scraped off for good in 2018. I am in awe of the lawyers who fought this legal battle- colleagues and partners – Arundhati Katju

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