Calling any city other than Calcutta "home" wasn't something I had planned on doing while growing up. And then, life happened and all the plans went for a toss. The warmth of home was found in a far-away German town amidst strangers who turned into soul sisters, love made its "P"ermanent residence in the heart, and some of life's biggest lessons were learnt.
This time too, moving to a city I am not particularly fond of wasn't part of the dream dreamt since long. True, the transportation system fascinates me and leaves me in awe. The chai makes me want to lick the cup over and over again when no one is watching. The academic job market looks straight in the evil eyes of unemployment and winks. But, the city isn't passionate enough when I look at it (yes, "it" and not "her"; I have my own sets of rules and reservations) through my Calcutta-esque glasses. It does not let the mind sit on a time machine and visit nostalgia-land. It does not provide the warmth of pithe-puli, nolen gurer sondesh and Gariahat. The pollution slowly awakens the dormant migraine. And, it makes me realise that "নদীর ওপার" is indeed a real place that I can visit not everyday.
Yet, it gives me reasons to be happy. Dancing-on-air happy. It fills the heart with puddles of joy everytime I walk along the lush green sidewalk of the famed institute. It transforms me into a starry-eyed kid in a candy-store as I ogle the entry gate, the widespread graffiti and buildings that had once housed my dreams. It pulls a P. C. Sorcar act on all my tears and fears and replaces them with hopes, prayers and promises. And, it makes me realise that the best things in life always take the longest to happen.
The city is special, therefore. Not because of the infinite number of things it doesn't have or give. It is not Calcutta, it never will be. First love can happen only once right? But, it does give the comfort of home-made Espressos and long morning cuddles. It compensates for the heart-aches with the company of best friends and family. Most importantly, it makes the dream of doing what I love and sharing the address with the favourite roommate, a reality :-).