iDream | Homecoming and Why I Considered Moving Out Of Mumbai

Maximum city
The one that dreams are made of
The one that makes dreams come true
But for me it’s just meant one thing: home. The real deal.

Back 'home' that's the view I had access to

I count myself to be fortunate enough to have been born and bred in a metropolis like Mumbai; a little too fortunate if I may say so. School, college, first job and then another -- my love story with the city was well on track. Would I ever consider moving away?
This, of course, would be modified my friends and acquaintances as “Why would you ever consider moving away?”

Here’s why --
To give into my curious side and know what it’s like to live outside my comfort zone: To be very honest, Mumbai didn’t leave me aspiring for much. Everything I needed was mostly available at my disposal.
Yes, it’s a concrete jungle.
Yes, it’s been plundered so much that one no longer knows what’s really left – but it still get plundered.
Yes, it’s an infrastructural nightmare and cannot compare to any international megapolis. Shanghai can be all the Shanghai it wants to be.
In spite of all the abuse it puts up with, Mumbai is about resilience.
What would it be like to be in a place that isn’t that? I had to find out. I had to know. That’s how the move outside my comfort zone happened.
To say I gave into wanderlust is only part of the story. I had a long outstanding challenge I’d posed to myself: to move out. I was rather confident that I’d be able to survive (if not thrive – not right away at least) once the move happened. And survive I did because I knew how to adapt. Here was my opportunity to put it to use. Once the novelty of a new place wore off, it was effortless melding into places. I didn’t need a comfort zone - not as much as I thought I did!

Juhu beach and sunset - the panacea for a long day at work (as I used to know it)

To realise what I’d been taking for granted: To be on the move is to be disoriented. And being disoriented is a different kind of high -- That’s the best way I could describe what it’s been like solo navigating my way through the six states I’ve been to over the past five months.
Some paths have been Google Mappable. And many haven’t.
Some paths have had data connectivity going strong. And here as well, many haven’t.
And yet through all the disorientation, I’ve had my inner compass pointing me towards the right direction.
Sure, I haven’t had as many moments as I would have liked where I could simply let my guard down. And I didn’t realise the full magnitude of it until 10 days ago when I dropped in ‘home’ for the first time since being away! That night when I arrived in Mumbai and stepped into a cab outside the airport, I realised I wasn’t consulting Google Maps.
There wasn’t any need for me to.
This was home. This was where I knew things at the back of my hand.
This was where I could let my guard down.
Silly how I hadn’t realised what I’d been taking for granted.

The alleys and lanes of Mumbai. Of cobbled footpaths

To see myself from the rear view mirror in the people I'd left behind: Stepping outside my comfort zone had many more ramifications than merely leaving the city. Because with the city came its people as well as my people - my inner circle. This, though, wasn’t an acid test for my relationships with and within the city. This was about being able to step aside from the Self and the people around me. And in turn it was about having the heart to recognise the Self through that rear view mirror five months on…

It’s like Terry Pratchett said: “Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

And what did I see? A graceful transformation – of the Self and the people left behind (or at least of most of them). I saw it as an attestation to the fact that we can go miles away for months but when we return and stand face to face from each other, no matter how our individual journeys have panned out we pick up the thread like it had never been let gone off at all. That you can still resonate, still talk non-stop and also not talk at all because sometimes even that’s perfectly alright. This indeed is a very special thing to return to - if even for just four days before the road beckons you again.


P.S.: None of this was without the repeated pangs of missing a rather integral part of me. For a while I wasn’t able to put a finger on it. I attributed it to being constantly on the move from one state to another – and though I was still within my own country (which technically is still ‘home’) something wasn’t the same. Until I acknowledged to myself that I did miss Mumbai.

P.P.S.: It is bittersweet – the going away and returning. Something’s aren’t quite as you’d hoped to find them. But in the end it’s about what you choose to focus on. That’s what this post is about.

So tell me, what was your experience returning back home since the first time you stepped out?

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