My hometown is a city in western UP. This is the place where I was born and have lived for the first 18 years of my life. Post that I moved out for higher studies and never really stayed there for more than a month or so except for last year when K was born and I stayed with my parents for almost four months. However, I keep visiting the place on and off. As a kid my life was mainly confined to my hometown. Only during summer vacations we would head to Uttarakhand to spend time with my grandparents for a month and a half. Otherwise, there were occasional trips to Delhi to attend any wedding of later on to appear for engineering coaching classes, but these trips were very far and few in between. Since as a family we did not travel much so it was pretty much our hometown only which we were exposed to while growing up.
Like almost all people, I had a very strong liking for my town. Though one of the many far from perfect cities of UP, this was the town we would call our own when someone asked us where are you from? (Ours was the first generation born here, as my parents had moved from Uttarakhand (UK) to here, but UK was only a holiday destination for us) This was the place which gave me a sense of belonging. I pretty much new the geography of a large part of the city, I knew the markets, I knew and was very proud of what it was famous for, there were shopkeepers and uncles who recognized me as my father’s daughter, just because I resembled him very much and they had known my father for long…I am not sure if I loved the place, but it was a part of my identity.
(I actually loved UK more. I am a hill person and was deeply attracted to the beautiful Himalayas, I have some amazing memories of my time spent there as a child)
Then in 1999, I stepped out of home to move to a neighboring town to prepare myself for higher studies, and in 2000 left for my engineering in a far flung college of UP. Even in the graduation days, hometown played a very important role. In a place where people had come from all parts of the vast UP, those from the western UP belt bonded over similar roots. The proximity to Delhi, the slightly Punjabi touch in the overall culture, the not so sweet language….it all gave us a feeling of oneness. Then there was this favoritism from seniors which was reserved for people from the same area. College vacations was again a time to bond over region. All of us from the western part of the state would flock together and travel in trains going towards Delhi, from where everyone would head to their own towns/ cities. Belonging to hometown played a major role during these college days.
After few years I went down south to pursue my post graduation. This was a national level college and there were people from all states, right from Jammu to Pallakad. The region bracket became bigger and now we were people from North and from South. Visit to home also decreased during these two years, and were restricted to two visits per year, not more than 15 days at a time. It was already 6-7 years since I was away from home. It was I guess during this time, that the bond with my city started to weaken a bit. The visits to home became more functional and the feelings that once my town invoked in me started fading a bit. I am not very sure of the reason though. After Chennai, Bangalore happened. This is where I landed to start my first permanent job. The visits to home became even more spaced and my mental and emotional association became even weaker. Yes, I still loved being home, but only my home…not the city. That sense of belonging was somehow losing its grip. I stayed in Bangalore for 3 years, that is when I got married and moved to Gurgaon where I presently stay.
My parents still live in my hometown. There have been talks of selling our home and moving to UK post my mother’s retirement. My father is already retired. These discussions started a couple of years ago. At that time, the very thought of losing connection with my hometown would fill my heart with sadness. The thought of losing ties with the place where I grew up, would fill me with sadness. It was a place I identified with, and i did not want that association to end. Now, when my parents talk about selling our home here and moving out, I remain unperturbed. I participate in it in a very matter of fact way, with no heaviness of heart. Yes, i would still miss the house we live in, but I doubt I will miss visiting the city. Even now when I visit my town, I do not feel an urge to do a tour of my school building when I pass by. Till few years back, visiting the school and just roaming around the corridors use to be a regular activity in my plan when I was there. I have to literally push myself back in time to think of the good days spent there. It does not come naturally as it use to once upon a time. I have to really strain myself to remember those days when this school was my life.
I was in love with Chennai till I stayed there; after initial disappointments, I started liking Bangalore also. I was dead against moving to Gurgaon, but honestly it feels home now. I am not very keen on moving out of the city in the near future. Today my associations and preferences for the cities are very time bound. I like a place till the time I am there, once I move, my mental association with the place starts fading. The only place I associate with strongly now is my native in UK. My hometown does not invoke the feelings in me the way it use to at some point in time.
I guess its called growing up. I do not see any reason for such detachment otherwise. Nostalgia for this part of my past has been replaced by other things it seems.
Tell me, how do you guys feel about your hometown?