People often ask me which city I would like to live in. I have tried to come up with an answer to that question. But so far, I have not had much success. Honestly, I think I have seen too little of the world to be making a judgment as significant as this.
Among the cities in India that I have lived in – Calcutta, Bombay and Bangalore – I personally would prefer living in Bombay. The city has a life of its own. The atmosphere there is electric and the people of the city are in general non-intrusive. Whenever I enter that city, I get a strong feeling that I belong. The salty smell omnipresent in the city is a distinct characteristic and gives me a weird sense of comfort. The city does have a dark side, as was dramatized in the novel Shantaram, but overall the city has an aspirational undercurrent and is often called the City of Dreams.
There are so many cities I would love to see around the world – New York, Paris, Venice, Sydney, Hong Kong – the list is literally endless. Many of these cities are fabled and oft romanticized. Holywood and English music has an indulgent streak as far as New York is concerned. In fact, the song Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z makes me want to jump on a plane and head straight to the city. However, London is the city which holds a special place in my heart as of now.
I spent my last summer vacation in the United Kingdom. I had gone there with my parents and my younger brother. We drove around most of England and Scotland. It was an out of this world experience to say the least. It made me realize why so many great authors and poets found inspiration in these lands. The rolling green grasslands were beautiful and rejuvenating. The weather was very kind. All in all, it was the best vacation of my life.
I don’t have any specific reason why I love London so much. But that is because there are far too many of them. The amount of sheer variety in the people, cultures, food, attractions, etc. is dazzling. I would go so far as to say that nobody could possibly get bored in London for lack of things to do. Although, I am not too sure about the solemn winters there! The winters are supposed to be painful. Anyways, there was so much to see and so much to do in the city, we were overwhelmed. And because my family has a large breadth of interests, we didn’t know which places to leave out. The weather was perfect for roaming the streets on foot. The days were long – nightfall happened around 930 PM! And we tried to make the most of it. Even then we didn’t have the time to go to some of the most ‘popular’ places like the Buckingham Palace or the Ripley’s Museum! The city was crowded in preparation for the pending Olympics, but yet every person who used to catch our glance would always smile back. We stayed with friends who were the most gracious hosts we could hope to have. The experience was beyond amazing. I would like to spend at least a few months in the city.
Even my family shared my feelings. My dad said that if we couldn't plan for some other place for vacations, we could always spend a few weeks in London.