City 2: Aurangabad
Bombay to Aurangabad. My family & I were left in shock. Aurangabad turned out to be a stark contrast to Bombay. No wide, smooth roads. No sophisticated crowd. No flashy malls. No big cars. In their place, there were vulgar, drunk auto fellows, tumtums driven by rowdy 17 year old boys, badly dressed, fatigued people, dusty roads and dull buildings. I saw no colour there. But I was excited. I was about to start my independent life here. I stayed in a dirty hotel for one week. Luckily, I had 2 other batch mates to give me good company. I shifted into a hostel soon, which I quit after 2 months to live in a lavish PG accommodation. I ended up staying for 4 years in Aurangabad. I don’t know whether to thank the place for making me strong or curse it for giving me so many bitter experiences. After all, I learnt to deal with stalkers, drunkards, thieves, policemen, liars, obsessive fans and loneliness. I took on to the new city and workplace with full spirit.
I was so positive and enthusiastic that I failed to see the deficiencies of the places and how it was damaging me and my future. Every Sunday, I went out to the market and commercial area to shop. I shopped compulsorily (to pass time, mostly). I tried making friends but couldn’t. I just couldn’t find the right people. So, wherever I went, I went alone. I shopped alone and ate out alone. People gave me weird looks but I managed to deal with that. Dealing with vulgar, ill-mannered & low-class men, who sat at corners or outside small, dingy restaurants or along the roadside on their bikes, in groups, was difficult. It was a pain walking alone on the streets. I often felt all eyes on me. Rather, going through me.
To pass time, I also bought things to decorate my room, like pots to be painted, artificial flowers to decorate my room with and rangoli colours. I ended up using nothing, in the end.
When I was not avoiding stalkers and fans, I was working hard. I slogged. I worked 10 hours per day on an average. Not that I was a great performer. I was learning. I was given a huge responsibility, with no hand over my head, to protect and guide me. I faced lot of opposition and aversion from people (because, I concluded later on, that it was a smallish company of old-timers working there since its inception and they refused to accept an amateur girl in a prime position) and did not make friends at the workplace too. Barring one or two, whom I could trust. And when they left, and so did my first boss, my downfall in the company started. I couldn’t trust anyone in that organization – my juniors, seniors or colleagues.
I did quite some trekking and sightseeing in Aurangabad. Aurangabad is famous for the Daulatabad Fort, Ellora Caves, Biqi Ka Maqbara & Ajanta Caves. Aurangabad looks lovely during the rains and the drive upto Daulatabad Fort and Ellora Caves is brilliant. I have been there several times with friends and not-so-true-friends.
Probably my first and fourth year there was good in terms of having true friends around me. People drifted away after my first year, till I made new friends in my last year there. I remember how we watched each and every movie that came. (It’s worth mentioning here that till 2008, Aurangabad did not have decent theatres and we had to go to those shady theatres where a ticket costed Rs. 40. I think I didn’t see movies for a period of around 2-3 years, due to lack of good theatres and friends, till Fame & PVR opened multiplexes there. Not that the crowd was great there, but anyway). We had to bear with the Friday power cuts and had to spend time till 11:00 pm somehow. So, we had biryani at Char Minar Biryani, saw a movie at Fame and camped at CCD till 11:00 pm. I didn’t regret the power cuts with my friends around me.
I couldn’t get myself to trust anyone in Aurangabad. I somehow felt uncomfortable and conscious around them. As if they were judgemental and/or cunning and/or narrow minded and would harm me in some way. I didn’t know how to deal with them.
I was 22 when I started living in Aurangabad. I spent my formative years there. That place was supposed to shape my personality and help me find myself. Only, it didn’t really shape my personality as much as it left me deflated and weak. But yes, it did help me understand myself more. I started writing when I was in Aurangabad. I discovered my love for travel and hunger to know about the whole world then. I understood that I was not made for a corporate job and should be doing something creative. And I understood who my friends were.
By the time I realized that I should have been out of this place long ago, recession had set in. I, finally, quit my job and headed back home. I took on to job hunting as a full time job. I cut myself off from everyone at my workplace. I was not sure of who my friend was, who really liked me and whom I could contact. I left it at that and was surprised to find people come back to me. It was only after a month that I was able to see light ahead.
(Coming up: Surat..)