“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Ann Radmacher
And yes, I have never been the same. For every city has given me something special, almost sacred. Like a treasure hunt, while deciphering clues and uncovering secrets, I found parts of me buried in each city, without which I would hardly be well, me.
Most of childhood was spent around two beautiful places, Muscat and Goa. Here’s what they taught me:
Muscat showed me the importance of friendship and community. For families living away from their home countries, the community you build will be everything you ever need. And I know every time I go back to Muscat there are those few people whom I love and cherish with all my heart. Friends who I’ve made in kindergarten and still going strong, families whom we’ve spent birthdays, holidays and Christmas with.
Muscat also showed me peace and how often beauty isn’t something that stands out, but something hidden only to be found if you are willing to look. With its underplayed wadis and oasis and beaches tucked away behind mountains like a shy bride. It was the city that molded me, like an old and loving potter that will always recognize me from afar with little details of peace and serenity that he carved into my skin.
My birthplace, my roots, my haven. I know most people hold their hometowns close to their hearts but I often wonder what I did right to be from a place so beautiful. Goa is proud and boasts of her beauty. She knows what she’s made off and isn’t afraid to show it off. Pristine beaches, colourful Goan houses, even pretty Goan ladies in their floral summer clothes. No one is afraid to paint their worlds bright yellow, green, pink, red and many more!
Benaulim, my beautiful little town, always took me in and showed me how to slow down. Asked me to let go. And rightly so, I could by taking a walk down the beach just minutes away from my house, or playing with my cousins who lived just next door.
Besides these two, I lived in Pune for three years to pursue my undergraduate degree. A city that played a game in a whole new league. A faster city, different people, a different language and a different lifestyle. It was the first time I lived without my parents or anyone familiar. You could say I have mixed feelings about Pune if I’m going to be absolutely honest. The city did however, open me up and showed me strength. It showed me parts of me that I didn’t know existed. It helped me grow courage muscles and helped me see myself in new light.
They say pressure can burst a pipe, or make a diamond. I had to choose what I wanted that pressure to do to me. I met people who I thought I could trust but bailed on me, and then I met people who I never trusted but lifted me up. It was a roller coaster experience. Pune was like that one tough teacher we always have in school. I was overwhelmed by her teaching methods and often wondered how this is helping me, but only at the end of the year I realized how much I’ve learned and accomplished.
And now, where am I? What new lesson have I learnt? Or still learning?
If a city were to be my soul mate it would be Edinburgh. I was nervous before I came to Scotland, wondering if I would fit in. Though when I landed I felt as if the universe was shifting things around and paving a way to make sure I fit in just right. I still can’t fathom why the people of Edinburgh are so nice but they are and for that I am grateful. In just over two months I managed to find time to go on a road trip to the highlands and I think I left a piece of my heart behind in the mountains while the mountains gave me a piece back.
Edinburgh, the city of castles and lochs, poets and museums, the only city where I don’t mind going out absolutely unaccompanied because there is so much to learn and see all on my own that I would often forget that I don’t have company. However, I almost always have someone with me because I managed to make some really great friends who are in awe of the city as much as me.
It would be too soon to say what Scotland has taught me. I can’t wait to find out what it is. I also can’t wait to continue running this treasure hunt of finding myself in yet another new country until this list is the biggest and most precious thing I will ever own.