Where the air had something that makes me think I’ll go back. For more…
More of what metro cities don’t have. Neither do the villages.
Cheap Uber rides,
malls and markets to choose from,
street food stalls as well as affordable cafés,
un-crowded yet relatively safe neighborhoods to go on long walks,
folks who are neither too interfering nor too indifferent.
I’ve had my temporary addresses at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Gurgaon and Delhi (in that order) for over 8 years, though none of it ever felt like home. At least, not while living there. Now, when I re-visit, some streets feel familiar. Bangalore’s MG road reminds of days when I used to be broke (and dumb) whereas Gurgaon looks like pique personified. Being away from parents doesn’t count as a reason for that. In fact, even parents’ abode doesn’t appear like a place where I belong.
Thanks to the fact that we are movable beings and also to this thing called privilege. Because of which I had enough money & other means to travel to lands that are unreachable for some and unimaginable to many.
Last couple of months in Indore (yes another temporary address), a short trip to Bhopal and several visits in the villages of Madhya Pradesh helped me find another level of affection and respect for cities that fall somewhere between giant cosmopolitan and tiny towns. Sharing a list of 7 favorites I briefly visited that I’d love to go back to and call ‘HOME’ for a while. In alphabetical order:
Chamoli – One of the most backward districts of Uttarakhand, one of the most beautiful too. The town has been my pit stop a couple of times while moving higher in the Himalayas. At next chance, would stay for a while, volunteer may be, go on day hikes or small treks, sit with a book and/or a cup of coffee overlooking those mountains.
Gangtok – Where I spent only three days but could easily stay for three months. It made me feel like a music illiterate and even compelled me to question my dressing sense but the cleanliness, kindness and great food made up for it.
Indore – A city I arrived at without any expectations and may be, that’s why it doesn’t stop surprising. Just when I think I have discovered a bunch of go-to places for all time cravings, I get to know of a new one. Known for all kinds of yummy vegetarian street food, it has its own share of amazing architecture for those who like to look beyond what meets the eye at first.
Kangra – As Edith Sitwell said, “Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.”
Kangra valley seems to have all of it, and a little more. Spent just four days in town and have been waiting to go again, ever since.
Leh – Visited Leh 2.5 years back, as a part of family road-trip from Srinagar. Totally touristy trip that was. Will be revisiting next year, to understand the ecosystem in terms of environment, education and livelihoods. More details soon!
Additional Tip: Go in winters when flights are cheaper and touristy crowd lesser. Check out Air Arabia for current fare.
Udaipur – Who has been to Udaipur and didn’t fall in love? Doesn’t happen right?
Because there’s something for everyone…
Royalty as well as budget friendly.
Aravali range of mountains on one side and pristine lakes on the other.
Street markets and shopping malls.
Traditional doors alongside modern architecture.
Sophisticated cafés & excellent street food
Varkala – This little hippie town is absolutely not just about its beaches. I’m not a sea person but I’d definitely go back because three days were not enough.
For warm people, pretty home-stays, free wi-fi, long walks, carefree afternoons, hippie vibes, sitting by water and that ‘life is good’ feeling.
Which Indian city are you in love with, and why? Look forward to hear wonderful stories in comments below.
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