Friday, February 27, 2009

Love it or hate it?

There's something about Kozhikode, the city. Something which us big city folks will never understand. Something which we won't really try to understand. There's something quite incredible at being able to keep your helmet pegged on the rear view mirror and saunter off without any worries that somebody will try to make a quick buck from it. Or your wet rain jacket draped over the seat, rather than lugging it around and making everything else soggy. And rest assured nobody will touch it. I've got so used to this that I've started forgetting my bike keys on the bike, something which although hasn't caused me any loss yet, is not a good habit to pick up when you occasionally go back to the big bad world.

Or the traffic for that matter. This is one of the most disciplined cities I've seen yet when it comes to traffic, if you exclude the schumi-driven local buses of course. People stop before the stop line, not over it, not 2 feet ahead and just before the zebra crossing or as Puneites proudly do, halfway over the zebra-crossing. If the right lane is for turning right and the left for going straight ahead, not a soul will be on the wrong side, and the straight moving traffic will continue smoothly without the usual snarling and swearing which is an omnipresent feature of Indian roads.

It's so brilliant to stay in a city where the land isn't under severe pressure. Take the beach road, for instance. In any town, this would be prime property, and every inch would be occupied. Not so in Kozhikode. The street is wide enough for an occasional car to pass, and the footpath on the beach side is one majestic tiled-up walkway with fountains (although I've never seen them working) and benches and grass carpets and quaint supposed-to-look antique lamps.

Take the people too. I've never seen a more contented looking bunch. There is this serenity and peace about them which is completely absent in any typical big city.

Yet, most people on campus aren't too thrilled with the place. They want nightlife, pubs and bars and fancy restaurants and a bit of vigour and vibrancy. Nothing wrong in that of course. There's no doubt that this place is slow. Even for me, a big-towner with the attitude of a small-towner. I loved this place initially. Then, slowly, it started getting to me a wee bit. Now, I am a bit confused. The lazy, easy-going side of me loves it. There's nothing quite like a quiet evening on the beach by myself, or a leisurely drive down the empty streets at midnight without running the risk of being driven over by a drunk idiot. But then, you also want a wee bit of fancy spots and some good fooding joints. Which Kozhikode sorely lacks. Which does make me feel like getting out of here as soon as possible. But then, there's this other side which will miss the good bits, which good ol' Pune reminds me within a few hours of landing up there! As usual, I am confused!

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