My family and I shifted to Chandigarh when I was four years of age. Since we had come from a small village from Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh fascinated me from the moment I set eyes on it. Big roads, big markets and the hustle of a city. For my little mind and eyes, it was all very attractive. And since our house was bang on the main road in sector 15, I would keep sitting near the window and watch the vehicles go by. I would count all the cars and scooters and the ones I liked, I would secretly label mine. The evening rush, the bell and aarti sounds from the temple across the road were sometimes soothing and sometimes intriguing.
Whenever I got a chance to sneak out, I would just start walking by the road, looking at the big houses, traffic and reach the marketplace. Of course I would always get lost and the whole neighborhood would go looking for a small girl, who couldn’t speak a word of Hindi, gone missing. If my mother left me at home firmly telling me not to move out, just to run some quick errands, I would move out after her and then again get lost somewhere, asking people around if they had seen my mom, who makes a bun! And fortunately, I would be found every time, wandering around on the streets. Those were the ‘good old’ days when people still had loving hearts that wouldn’t harm a young child. Now when I think of a small girl lost in the city like I used to be, I feel scared for her. But, that was the charm of Chandigarh then. I got the courage to venture out without being worried of any ill happening to me. I think that’s what gave me the confidence I have now, to travel, to see the world, as I want to!
I started school, learnt the language, made friends, and with time, Chandigarh became home. Of course the visits to the village for the annual vacations, still kept me in touch with my roots. But coming back ‘home’ to Chandigarh always brought a smile. As I grew, finished school, joined college for my 11th and 12th classes, I did feel the city grow with me. Or maybe it was my perspective that had changed. I was no more a small, quiet girl. I had grown up into an inquisitive young woman. And then came the big leap in my life, I joined an integrated post graduate program in Punjab University. It seemed as if I had grown wings, wings of renewed confidence. Everyday was a new day, a new life. And as always, this city held my hand and let me experience life in her safe embrace. As they say, change is the only constant. The city also grew every year, in number of people and as a result in traffic. But since it was gradual, I could take it in my stride. It was home after all! And always reassuring to come back after every trip out of the city. Travelling became more and more frequent, be it work or vacations. Visiting other cities, bigger than ‘home’, like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, made me fall in love with Chandigarh more profoundly. It became more of a truly, deeply, madly kind of love!
But yes! The city has changed. Increase in traffic, population sure have brought issues with it, but it has given a lot of newness also to the place. Now if you ask anyone where to go for shopping, they may not say sector 17 anymore, or taking a stroll at the lake would mean maneuvering your way through the crowd, but still sitting in ‘stu c’ has its charm intact and the ‘geri route’ still means sectors 10&11. Chandigarh has grown like all of us have. In color, in depth and in perspective. But one thing remains constant, the smile on my face and the warmth that fills my heart when I see ‘welcome to city beautiful’!
For me, this city will always be beautiful and ‘home’.
Editor’s Note: On behalf of iDiya.team, I sincerely thank Sarika Kanwar for this beautiful article on the beautiful city of Chandigarh. Feel free to follow Sarika on her iDiya profile www.idiya.net/sarika
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– Swapna Peri, iDiya.net Editor – LifeStyle, Art & Culture
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