Dear Cambridge

Dear Cambridge,

At the time of writing, I have described your weather to everybody as British Test Match weather. When I was younger, I used to spend days watching India’s tours of England. I’d watch the day’s play and then watch the highlights. I’d pretty much be glued to the television till my grandmother came home and insisted I do something else. That passion continued through as I grew older. Since I started following the sport, there is not one season of English test cricket I have missed till date. Every match, I hear commentators say the same thing late in the day. Lots of cloud cover, the sun shining through in the batsman’s eyes. Ball swinging, difficult session. That’s precisely how you look today, and how you have looked for each of the five days I have now spent here.

Cambridge, you will be the fourth place I call home. Thus far I have resided in Dubai, Bengaluru, and Gandhinagar, falling in love with each for different reasons. I’m curious to fall in love with you, to find out why I fall in love with you. I’m curious to understand your character – what you enjoy, and what frustrates you. I’m eager to find out your story, your stories, each and every one of them. The folklore that birthed you, the myths that continue to help you survive, and the reality that draws people like me to you from far and wide.

You represent a closed loop in my life, Cambridge. It feels surreal being here despite the fact that I am sitting in self-isolation, because for years, I have seen your logo on my certificates as I completed my IGCSE’s and A Levels. I have seen your logo across International schools in the cities I’ve visited. I have repeatedly watched CamVlogs, and Jake Wright’s Vlogs on YouTube, and have heard stories from seniors about breathing your air and experiencing your grandeur.

I cannot wait to earn your trust and be your companion.

I hope you feel the same way.

Love,

Tejas

Dear Bengaluru

Dear Bengaluru,

This evening, your skies turned a dull grey, and ever since, you’ve been crying. It’s almost as if you’re preparing for me for where I will be next, as you’ve done ever since I’ve been done. I know the real reason for your tears is that you’re sad that I’m leaving. Believe me, I am too.

I’ve been struggling to come up with the right words to say Goodbye. For the past week, knowing that I’d be departing today, I’ve been thinking about how to tell you about every feeling you’ve given me that I’ll miss – and how to tell you that this isn’t really Goodbye, and that there are no Goodbyes. I’ve been wondering how to communicate that this isn’t a full stop, but a comma on a sentence that’s still writing itself. Each night I’ve come up short. I don’t have another night, and so I shall tell you how I feel, and I hope you feel the same way.

We were acquaintances till I was 10 years old. We flirted, yes – for a month every single year, but nothing really materialized. I don’t know if you believe in the stars, but I do, and I know that they weren’t aligned at the time. Every time we met I’d burst in with excitement and energy, and you’d sap it all away with your rains, the insects, the dirt. You’d tire me out with the traffic, the smell, the sound. I’d leave each time knowing I was going back to someone who gave me all the comforts you couldn’t offer. I’d leave each time knowing that it was not meant to be. You had bowled everybody in the family over, my dad included. Not me.

I can’t quite put my finger on what changed in 2008, but I spent a month flirting with you and I knew you were the place I wanted to call home. I knew, from the moment my world spun upside down and brought me to you that we would be okay. That we would last. To my idealistic mind, you could do no wrong, so I told myself I would try to do no wrong either, to prolong our association. There are forces in this world that are beyond our comprehension, and my pulse, when I saw you on that June evening, slowed. It steadied in gratitude.

So for the last 12 years of my life, I have tried to live with that pulse. I look back this evening and I know I have faltered at times. I was not grateful when you decided to give me the long road I had to travel to school, nor when you belatedly gifted me a bridge to smoothen my ride. Nor was I grateful when the closest grocery shop was more than six kilometres away. I know I did not display gratitude in my first year with you, when you offered up tempermental transitions in weather. Nor when livestock stopped me from getting deeper into your heart – the center of the city.

I know I was not grateful when Namma Metro arrived in a purple ribbon as a consolation prize for missing several anniversaries.

I look back tonight and all of this seems so pointless.

Since I was 10 you have given me family. Falling in love with you meant learning your history and stories, learning the language better, learning about my identity, learning about community – and gaining a stronger sense of acceptance from my family. You have introduced to me people I would not have had the opportunity to meet anywhere else in the world, and people whom I would not have wanted to meet elsewhere. People who loved you more than I, people who loved you, and lost you, people who begrudged you, who disliked you thoroughly. You seemed not to care what they thought of you, turning a blind eye to their opinion because of your love for them. You did swalpa adjustment, I know – but you made me find my place when someone called you overrated and I lashed out at them without hesitation, caring not for the consequences. When I left for short periods, to study at University, you gave me family there too – a family I love deeply, with whom talking about you felt like a Bengaluru Anonymous meeting, with all of us relapsing in the middle of the semester by flying back to you.

You gave me food and provided me shelter when I needed it the most, when I felt like everything else around me was crumbling away in the abyss – you were my anchor, my rock. Visiting a gaadi, eating dosas, chaats, and Corner House. You have given me a lifetime of exercise I need to do to get in shape.

You gave me your weather, and with it your soul. I know that in my first year I called it temperamental, but my goodness, you beauty. You have spoilt me for all eternity and I do not know if I will be the same anywhere else in the world, with anybody else. I love how comfortable you made everybody feel, exhibiting the Goldilocks principle in practice – you were just right. Not too hot, not too cold.

I have loved you so intensely that I am unsure if I will love like this again. Yet for that, I thank you.

I thank you because you were only the second place I called home – and the only place I thought of when I thought of Home. I thank you because you have set the bar so high that I am unsure if anything can live up to the billing. I thank you because you know, like you always do – that now is the right time to let go, and that you didn’t wait for the last night possible to say it. You said it six months ago, when you clinged on to me in the middle of a global pandemic and held on so tight, knowing that we’d have to part ways. You said it all when you allowed me to live with you and spend time with you alone, something I have desired for years now.

As I said earlier though, Bengaluru, this is not a goodbye. This is an au revoir – till we see each other again. This is a hogbarthini, because I’m just now only going – but I’ll be back soon to see you. This is a solpahottu bit siganna, because our time might be over for now, but you will always be in my heart.

Please be kind to everybody you take in. Please be yourself. It’s what people like I have thrived on.

So I won’t stop writing you letters, and I’ll keep calling your name. This isn’t a break-up of any kind, it’s a pause, I’m just switching lanes.

I hope you feel the same way.

Till next time,

Love,

Tejas