This post is dedicated to the lovely turquoise-and-lapis-clad lady standing next to me. A person I now consider a friend, a sister, a sympathizer, an admonisher, a supporter and loads of fun.
There are many people we meet as we trundle along life’s journey only when we are meant to meet them. As I have grown older, I have come to believe that. How else does one explain the love and bond this gorgeous lady and I share today? We grew up on the same street, attended the same college, studied the same course (English Literature, of course!), had similar interests and passions, even a common set of friends… and yet our paths never crossed.
As young adults when I was being wooed by her brother’s good friend, (her brother became my rakhi brother too!) we barely came to know of each other’s existence. Much much later, when we got married to men who went to the same B-School near Calcutta, did we finally meet! Yes, only then.
But Fate had other things in store. As the years passed, we juggled joys and responsibilities, as we got busy with our lives: children, family, work and home, each to her own. And then one day, I learned they’d left the country. Even though we stayed in touch with the family, and the children attended a birthday party or two at her home when they were visiting, we never had the opportunity to really get to know each other.
How totally similar yet different we are. Both of us opinionated, articulate, sensitive, a wee bit rebellious of the establishment too, we unabashedly love children and reading and are inclined towards the arts and all things old world, traditional and heritage-rich. Last year, they ‘returned’ to the country and as luck would have it, a professional opportunity brought them to Bangalore!
Initially, we reached out to help them settle comfortably in a new place with so many new experiences at every turn. She swears she is an old South East Asian soul reborn in India. Courtesy long enriching postings in Jakarta, Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh, where she says she ‘found’ herself. Her love for motifs like the lotus, dragonfly and bamboo, the art of silk painting, lacquerware and ceramics, the aromatic yet subtly flavoured pho, the ao dai (a long gown slit on both sides worn over loose pants) are evident all over her tastefully appointed home.
I showed Bangalore off to her, desperately wanting her to develop a liking for ‘’my” city. Of course, honest and frank as we are with each other, there were difficult days, when it seemed all of Bangalore’s problems were being hurled rudely at us whenever we stepped out of the house for a fun day of ‘discovery’. I secretly grumbled and complained “Come on namma Bengaluru, don’t let me down!” I so wanted them to consider making Bangalore their permanent home now (as opposed to Gurgaon which sadly seemed like a more tangible and preferred option). They were engulfed by the warmth and welcoming homes of old common friends who have been, for so many years, our “family” here too.
Over the past few months, we have ‘hung out’ together doing myriad things that bring us both much joy and satisfaction. Strolling through numerous CKP exhibitions, marvelling at the expertise and talent of craftspersons from around our country, (feeling proud, humbled and just plain lucky for the plethora of craft available to us), checking out weaves, fabrics and saris (something she feels she needs much ‘education’ on!), catching the odd movie, play or dance recital and long, lazy hedonistic afternoons replete with chai, chanachoor and chats (”adda” in Bengali) about our children, our families and the good old days of our childhood in Calcutta.
Here she is seen wearing a Mura shibori tussar (did we say anything earlier about a fascination for eastern culture?) with dragonflies (no surprises!) playfully flitting around the pallu. And I stand happy in an old but dear ashes-of-roses Bhagalpuri silk, another acquisition from Vastrabharana, many moons ago.
She has, of late, confessed that the city has grown on her even as I’ve sent up silent prayers of gratitude heavenwards.
Welcome to namma Bengaluru, Renu Jain. May the city continue to weave its magic spell on you. And may you embrace it as your own and make it your home, just as I did twenty-three years ago.

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