As the jetlite flight started descending over Nagpur Airport and I could see those small tiny houses dispersed in between green fields I was thinking how far has my city come. Or how far have I travelled away from it in last so many years. Both physically and mentally.
Nagpur is obviously not the same. But neither am I. We both have moved on. We both have changed. Taking a different trajectory from the time we both lived together.
People who know me, know that I, amongst other things, am unabashedly pro-Nagpuri and unabashedly pro-America. And I am apologetic about neither. Why pro-America? Simple answer - 'I have my reasons'. For a more elaborate explanation we need a whole new post.
Coming back to Nagpur, the obvious reason being - 'I am rooted here'. But let me go a little deeper than that.
Every time I come to Nagpur it feels like coming 'back home'. Whether I returned from my hostel life for vacation, or when I was working in Mumbai and came home or now when I am in Chicago and come to Nagpur. The feeling on landing at Nagpur, whether Airport or Railway st or Prasanna bus stop at Bole petrol pump,is similar. It just feels good. It just feels like my city, my home town is waiting with open arms to embrass me.
The feeling can best be described by the beautiful urdu word - Mehefooz. Yes, thats the closest I can think of.
The familiarity with everything just resonates from the word go. The language,
the traffic, the unnecessary honking of vehicles, the arrogant shopkeepers, the total disregard to value of Time, all ring a familair bell. It's home. It's here that my foundation was established. My family, my friends, my school, my childhood everything is deeply rooted here. This non-metro, second tier city of India, smack on the center of India's map.
This is the longest both me and wife have stayed in Nagpur in a very long time. And goes without sayin we are having a ball. That's an understatement actually. To put it in marathi Amhi jeevacha Nagpur Kartoye.
From eating different stuff every day to going to my paternal and maternal relatives almost every day, to flying kite, to playing with my niece and nephew, to having picnic in places around Nagpur, to taking long morning walks on well paved roads, to giving random calls to folks and making programs at run time, to meeting old buddy at coffee house, to contributing nothing to random family discussions and observing the ruckus to simply doing nothing and lying on bare floor and dozing off in afternoon naps.. we are making the most of it and we have not had a single dull moment so far..
The good part is I have been able to impress upon the positives of Nagpur to my non-Nagpuri wife. And best part is, I din't have to try too hard. Nagpur has changed for good.
Off course there are few things that haven't changed and won't in the future..
-General apathy towards Time and Appointments
-Method to chaos
-Endless discussions on any damn topic
-Pure and Wholesome Loudness of it all.
My battery is fully recharged now. I am taking a good mental picture of this vacation and leaving it on a positive note. Mumbai's tragedy on my first day of arrival overshadowed my stay initially. But now after having stayed with my family,cousins and friends I feel relaxed, re-fuelled and ready to go back.
If there's a notion of another life, and I am asked to choose a city I wish to be born again, it will be Nagpur for me. Simply No contest.