I am a creature of establishment. And habit. Whenever I'm out to dinner--depending on what kind of restaurant it
is--I order the same thing. I stick to the tried and tested neighbourhoods as
well, not venturing further unless I'm dragged, kicking and screaming. The neighbourhood I
"hang out" in, isn't the same as the one I live in, sadly. My neighbourhood has a lot going for it in terms of space and trees and waking up to birdsong (well, crows cawing at any rate) but it just
isn't exciting. It's full of old people or families. The neighbourhood restaurants are tiny and good only
for takeaway. There's not one decent Italian restaurant nearby or Punjabi, and
there's only so much sea food I can eat.
Over the bridge beckons the posher part of my neighbourhood. Posh enough to be called a neighbourhood, cool enough to be called the ‘hood. Where I go to pay my cellphone bills because my network service provider doesn't have an office on my side. Where all the nice eating places are, where I gaze wistfully at their home delivery menus because, of course, they don't deliver to my address. Where I party, where I go for Sunday evening coffee, in short, where I go to live.
My friends have contributed somewhat to this thought process of mine. No one wants to actually seriously hang out at my place, unless I'm having a party. I never hear, "Oh, let's chill in your part of town today." Understandable. I mean, there's nothing to do, as such, no one to see, just trees. And roads.
I like that about it, though. It's my quiet place, my house, my locality. A place where I don't have to socialize. A place where I can just go on being me and no one will really notice. I don't even know half my neighbours, and sometimes when I see them visit each other, I feel a little pang, but at the same time I'm glad. I don't want to have to make small talk with anyone once I'm home. Home is home, with my cat and the television and sweat pants. And frankly, isn't being posh and trendy all the time a lot of pressure? I have some friends who live in the more ‘happening' parts of town and their houses are usually a stream of activity. You either begin or end your evenings there--"because it's close"--and I feel a little bad for them, not being able to think and wind down and have space.
Plus, recently, I've begun to appreciate more and more things about where I live. Not least of all: the fact that friends live down the road, making the young people population slightly more. I like that I can't hear traffic sounds at all, although on contrary days I hate the quietness and just want to be in the middle of a loud rumpus somewhere. Today, walking down my local market, I saw a sign on a tiny shop marked ‘Music Academy' and inside were rows of Casio keyboards on desks and a boy learning to play the guitar. Right next to that is "Hero Bar-Country Liquor", which has a pretty red light on at night past the crusty old curtains and you can see people flitting about inside. Someday I'll make my way into that male domain, but for now, I don't dare.
Then up the road is a lending library--which has all the Mills and Boons and Mary Higgins Clark a girl in search for trash could desire. I think there's something wrong with the owner, not seriously wrong, but he seems a little slow. This just adds to the charm of it for me. Down the road from there are all the food people--the bhelpuri guy who is always mobbed, the bhutta guy, who in the rainy season puts an umbrella over his stand, undaunted, and if you know where to look, some seriously good vada pav. I love that I can walk to my option of cheap snacks and that kids can play on the streets without being run over, like really play--games like cricket or badminton-- and cycle fiercely. There's always parking for me, and for whoever wants to visit and, seriously, who needs a well done mojito if you can sit on your windowsill and watch birds nesting?