Ask yourself, do you love her the way you used to?
Ionce wrote on my Wall: ‘Delhi is like that wild party gal you’d kill to sleep with for a night, Bombay is the girl you’ll take to the movies for a one-off date, but Chandigarh is the first girlfriend whom you’d beg to take you back eventually, hopefully even marry.’ In my five-year, fulltime career as a Facebook user, this ‘status’ generated the most buzz. Reactions were extreme, always the case when you romance in public. Aarish Chhabra writes.punjab Updated: Jul 14, 2013 18:28 IST
Ionce wrote on my Wall: ‘Delhi is like that wild party gal you’d kill to sleep with for a night, Bombay is the girl you’ll take to the movies for a one-off date, but Chandigarh is the first girlfriend whom you’d beg to take you back eventually, hopefully even marry.’ In my five-year, fulltime career as a Facebook user, this ‘status’ generated the most buzz. Reactions were extreme, always the case when you romance in public.
Some said the comparison was shallow. They knew I’d spent barely a week in Bombay (Mumbai, OK!) and 13 breathless months in (New?) Delhi. Others called me a smalltowner, which I took as a compliment. I ignored the temptation of responding in small-town lingo, of lecturing them about love at first sight, the perception of time and other such alleged nonsense.
But as I write this -- the first column in a ‘By the Way’ series that will hopefully be a lifelong romance, complete with pan-throwing fits of anger – I can’t help but explain why I and Chandigarh shamelessly indulge in PDA (city-speak for Public Display of Affection).
This love makes me see curves of a lady in the winding in-sector roads; long eyelashes of a fashionista in the trees whose branches droop over roads; a discipline so lovingly imposed by a wife in the neat rows of houses; the quiet assurance of a woman’s hug when Sukhna Lake embraces me under the stars; and a heart-toheart sharing of pent-up emotions, joy and sorrow, when rain visits her.
I am not discounting the increased traffic, the slums where ‘invisible people’ live, or the general fall in hygiene levels. In a city that’s turning into a giant pool of opportunity and competition -- college campus and labour market rolled into one -- the longer traffic halts are a pain after years of driving at 30 by choice. But at the risk of inviting the wrath of cynics, who may see this article as a brotherin-arms mutinising, I have the simpleton’s argument of comparison: to know traffic jams spend a day in Bombay, and to experience what garbage-on-the-street actually means just walk out of the UT’s borders.
Every bit of bad behaviour does not lead to a break-up unless you weren’t in love in the first place. And I’m not saying you don’t love her as much as I do, or that you just want to walk out on the city that you once loved; but there’s this constant nagging that irritates kids sleeping in the next room, eventually driving them towards impersonal spaces (and cities) where they hide until the desire to retire in Chandigarh gets too overwhelming or plain impractical.
The gist of Chandigarh’s problems lies not only in the under-use of condoms by our bulging population, but also in the lack of planning. If the original planners ignored housing for those who built this exposed-concrete beauty, 50 years later the rehabilitation policy has not been implemented in the right earnest. The IT Park was supposed to provide jobs and housing, but has lived up to our country’s time-tested twin traditions: name everything after the same family, and then fail the good idea.
If I am suddenly sounding like a controlling, possessive lover, I am intentionally in majority now. A trait of this majority is the refusal to talk it out, take responsibility for mess under its own roof.
Let me ask an allegedly profound question: When was the last time you held your representatives accountable, even on voting day? For a city of so many young and educated people, shouldn’t the MP and the councillors, even the unelected bureaucracy and the comparatively well-behaved police, be more afraid before sullying Chandigarh’s socalled ‘image’? Don’t give me the outsiders-have-ruined-the-city argument; how many ‘natives’ does a 60-year-young city have anyway?
The city is still trying. Unlike the rest of our country, Chandigarh is planning a Metro even when you, her loving citizens, put the available public transport to disuse. She’s widening roads and revisiting the roundabout policy for your safety.
But in many ways, the irony of Chandigarh is the irony of marriage. You marry for love that seems like bliss, but then care too less about it when you settle into domesticity. The roundabouts may be disappearing, and the demography changing, but Chandigarh of old is not lost, unless you stop loving her the way you used to.