Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Tale of 3 Cities

December 1995. As I strolled down Park Street after a kathi roll dinner, marvelling at the rows of restaurants- Flurys, Petercat, Mocambo, the hairdresser A.N John, the frames store, the pavement hawkers, the imposing Park Hotel, little did I realise that this city would be home for the next four years. Fresh out of management schoolin far flung Assam, I was hoping that this city would give me the break I so desperately wanted.

The break happened. Followed quickly by marriage. Colleages became friends, 30 Bondel Road became my second home, Ruby General Hospital my landmark for the tiny flat we lived in.

This was Kolkata- the City of Joy. The city I loved and still yearn for. Kolkata gave me my first taste of advertising, my first New Year Parties in Clubs after I had left Digboi in 1984, my first tram ride, my first kosha mangsho recipe, my first jhaal muri snack in office , my first clients- Bata, Modi Telstra, Emami, Itc. It is here I made my first friends, some of whom are my mentors, some still friends, some family.

Kolkata taught me what it is to make someone feel like being at home away from home, It was here I learnt my first skills of servicing, my first confident presentation, my first project- The legendary Wills YearBook.

Summer of 2000. Move to Mumbai. The city of dreams . It was like the clock turning back in some ways. Like having to settle for train rides to work instead of car- it was unaffordable given the distances.I remember my first train ride- I couldn't step out at Vile Parle and was jostled in till Borivali!!!! The walk from Churchgate to Fort Lakshmi Building, Bombay Store, Sailor restaurant, Sali Botis, the Lever, non Lever seating arrangement at work, my new boss who is now my dear friend, new relationships at work, new teammates. For the first time, I was senior enough to have someone report to me. Mumbai groomed me as a senior professional, taught me how to deal with multinational giants and million dollar brands, brought me close to clients who now head some of the biggest organisations in the country. From them I learnt the lessons of management, of leadership. Mumbai brought me close to the stars of Bollywood, whether it was a quick glimpse in a mall, a walk in Juhu or a shoot in Mehboob Studios.

Mumbai made me grow at a frenetic pace that is so characteristic of the city. Whether it was our first own apartment or car or the work front, Mumbai was like a lever that kept leveraging me.

Mumbai made me a mother, Mumbai made me mature in life. The floods where I was stuck for 8 hours, the blasts at night when we were returning from the Effies- the never say die spirit of Mumbaikars instilled in me the strength to raise my voice and fight my own personal battles.

July 2010. Gurgaon. My tryst with destiny. Gurgaon happened at a time when I had lost hope. Gurgaon rekindled in me the will to say- get on with life. Showed me how much the place I work for cares for me and values me. Gurgaon is where I am rediscovering myself. All over again. Whether it is the morning drive to work, the chapati, lemon rice lunches, the Galleria jaunts, biryani at Karim's. shopping at Ambience, our friends.... Gurgaon is a part of my life now.

This is my journey of the 3 cities I have lived and love. I owe each city for helping me grow up to be what I am. I owe each place for my friends, for all the bonds and relationships, the rich experiences I have filed away forever.

Life may take me places once more. But these three cities will always be there with me, no matter where I go.

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece on the string across the fabric of three cities that influenced you. And mention of Peter Cat and Karim's Biriyani makes me hungry....