Tuesday, 21 February 2017

How To Survive In A New City

If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello. In this day and age of globalization, everybody migrates from one place to another at least once in their lifetime. Some shift to a neighbouring city, some migrate to a different state and some settle down in a different country, while others fly around different continents. Some shift for education, some for a job promotion, some in order to escape the traces of a life-shattering trauma, while others shift just for the sake of their love for new places. The causes and forms of migration might be many, but underneath all the variances lies the same primitive fear of venturing out into an unknown place and living amongst unknown people following an unknown lifestyle based on unknown cultures and traditions.

So, if you’re suffering from this unending plague of the unknown, read on to find out how you can survive in a new city.


So, you’re in a new place and it terrifies you because you don’t know anyone. There’s no one at your beck and call, no shoulder to lean on when there are tears in your eyes. And you keep cribbing about it. But if you were to turn your lens just a bit, you would be able to see that there is beauty even in anonymity.

Alice Sebold shows this wonderfully in her novel The Lovely Bones, where she writes, She liked to imagine that when she passed, the world looked after her, but she also knew how anonymous she was. Except when she was at work, no one knew where she was at any time of day and no one waited for her. It was immaculate anonymity. Think about it- nobody to question you when you wear shorts for a movie. No neighbour to gossip about you when you return home with your boyfriend. You could even go as far as dancing crazily in the middle of the street in your pajamas (Believe me, it feels so liberating!) and you wouldn’t have to worry about what others would say because nobody knows you (yet).


Let me tell you this: I’m a Gujarati living in Bangalore. When I first set foot in this unknown land, I was shocked out of my wits. The people here were different, their languages were different, their traditions and rituals were different. And I felt like an intruder in an alien land. But six months down the lane, the same “alien land” feels like home. You must be wondering, reader, how did this transformation happen?

Well, I absorbed the culture of Bangalore, and you should do the same if you want to feel at home in a new city. So, go to the movies, watch the TV shows, listen to the music and dance the dance that your friends absolutely love. Make the slangs they use a part of your own vocabulary and believe in the same magic that everyone believes. In short, start living the life that everyone is living, and in no time, what seemed miles away will become intimately familiar.


In the process of unraveling culture, you will come across many different characteristics of your new home that are every endemic and different. At this point, all I wish to say is: stop cribbing. It doesn’t matter if all these seem normal to you or not, they are a way of life for the natives. Stop cribbing about the excessive traffic jams, try to find magic in the madness instead.

Stop cribbing about the pollution, take a chance to be mesmerized by the beauty of the black smoke blending into the clear blue skies. Stop cribbing about the unexpected rains, take them as a relief from the otherwise unrelenting heat instead. All I’m saying is, learn how to accept your city, along with all its blacks and all its whites. Learn how to fall in love with a place just because it’s your home now, and believe me, life will become much easier.


Just because you’re into this mode of learning new concepts and gaining new experiences, it does not mean that you forget what you already know. So, while you’re making new friends, take the time to call your old friends once in a while. While you’re gaining new experiences, take the time to reminiscence about the past.

And while you’re learning new songs, take the time to sing the songs that you and your old friends used to sing. The key to effectively surviving in a new city lies not letting what you want to become overshadow what you once were so much that you lose sight of yourself as a person.

So, in the end, all there is say is that shifting to a new city is the best experience that one can gift oneself. So, grab this chance to rediscover yourself.

Written by Aneri Doshi
What makes my heart race? Books, Coffee and Rain

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