The tale of two cities and a woman

I am a Hyderabadi. Sure, I may not like my biryani as much as the average Hyderabadi would and I may not swear by a cup of Irani chai, but I still am a Hyderabadi. You say anything against the city, you are dead, needless to say, I’ve had my share of fights.

So when I had to move to Bangalore, I was hesitant. “You’re moving to Bangalore woman, think about it, the clubs, the weather, better clothes, independence,” my friends said.  So, I thought about it. Bangalore does have an IT culture, Bangalore does have better clothes and I needed a change. 

There I was, fresh off the Kachiguda express, being accosted to my maternal uncle’s place, when I first saw it. The first unfinished fly over, and the mounds of dust and debris below.  Well, okay, it’s an unfinished flyover, what’d you expect, I thought as we zoomed, sorry crawled past it. You see, it was peak hour traffic.

The comparison started, almost immediately. I judged everything, from bus fare to what they served at Hard Rock café.

Hyderabad has midnight biryani (again, not a huge fan). Those Friday nights when everyone met and bonded over bandi Chinese and a smoke or Kulfi at the old city.  Bangalore, well closes down by 10PM.

To add insult to my injury, I was unemployed in Bangalore, out of an IT job, back to being a student. I had almost forgotten how it was to be a student, sharing a chai, living off maggi, spending your entire month’s phone balance in the first 10 days and drag the remaining days with the remaining 2 Rs of balance.

It seemed a lot of fun in college, but now, most of my friends, who were working in Bangalore, always seemed to hang out at those “cool” places, with those cool names which served fancy fare. I was, to put it politely, broke.

My only solace, I thought was watching a movie. I went, to the nearest Inox, at Mantri square on a Saturday evening, stood in line and asked for a ticket to the latest Salman Khan movie. Rs. 290, the guy at the ticket counter said. One ticket, I told him, not two. With a snicker, the guy said, “weekend prices ma’am.” I retired, hurt.

My mind went back to the times when a friend and I would watch any passing movie with a tub full of popcorn, at a local Hyderabadi theatre for almost the same price.

I was a part of the IT crowd in Hyderabad and I saw my fair share of cultural diversity. Somehow, Hyderabad never did really seem to mind that people couldn’t speak Telugu. Maybe it is because of the whole Nizami culture, people didn’t really mind.

You’ve definitely not had the Bangalore experience, if you haven’t been laughed at or made fun of by the conductor and your fellow passengers in a bus, when you say “Kannada swalpa swalpa barathu” (roughly translates to, I speak little Kannada).

Then, when Bangalore finally got to me, I decided, to make a list. I mean, a list always makes things better. 

Hyderabad has better roads, street food, an awesome history, culture and well, most importantly, character.

Bangalore has, and I thought, and I thought. I couldn’t write anything down. Then I thought for some more.  Why had I come to Bangalore, if loved Hyderabad so much? And it came to me, Bangalore had opportunity.

Hyderabad cared, Bangalore was indifferent.  This indifference manifested itself into a very impressive quality, of letting you be yourself and maybe, that was a part of the appeal.

For the record, the climate isn’t all that bad either. When it isn’t all right-wing, Hindutva propogating, moral policing, 11pm deadline adhering, Bangalore has a lot of fun stuff to do. It has a vibrant art and culture scene and quaint little book stores. A walk at Cubbon Park, a coffee at Koshy’s or a dosa at MTR would definitely make your day.

Bangalore, if it were smaller, would be awesome, it’s not a city designed to handle the population explosion. Plus, it has an identity crisis, is it a suave, modern, cool city? Or does it want to stick to its Kannada roots, be orthodox and judgmental? Bangalore’s lack of character arises from this basic conflict.

Doesn’t Hyderabad have this duality? I’m pretty sure it does, but somehow on a more emotional note, I think, it has learned to compartmentalize. Plus, geographically, Hyderabad is much smaller than Bangalore.

Taking off my Hyderabad tinted glasses, I have to say, I have a thing. I compare cities with men. Bangalore would always be the rebound guy I know I’d never get serious with, however fun he might be and Hyderabad, would be the guy I’d take home to my parents, though I know we’d have our differences.

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