I made plans to meet an old friend from the city at a new coffee shop in Banjara Hills. “It is the latest fad around here,” she promised. I had happily agreed as it gave me the opportunity to travel across the city; I wanted to be tempted down memory lane.
My afternoon with my friend turned out better than I imagined. We spoke about how much our lives have changed since college life. “Even the city has changed,” Shaheen said. The tiny by-lane near Parklane where we used to eat chaat was closed now. The beaten up buses we would take to the city from college have vastly improved. The movies we would watch for Rs 35 in theatres were all now razed down to make way for multiplexes. Even the city’s famous (infamous, really) Lamba theatre which played pornographic movies was no longer operational!
Shaheen and I had stayed in touch despite my move after graduation, so any changes concerning her were gradual and I had been witness to them. So, thankfully, there were no shocks there. I confided in her about the uneasiness I felt in the air. “Things have changed in the city, Anu. Old city is not the same anymore. Har jagha police. It is unsettling for someone who grew up in this city. Thanks to the hate speeches and the bomb blasts, a lot of suspicion is raised and I feel the Muslim activity is being monitored. My husband claims it is my conspiracy theories acting up on me and I have nothing to worry about. The city is just like it was,” Shaheen said.
“Maybe that’s what I felt. But I am not able to articulate it yet. I feel like I am being choked and my heart felt unnaturally heavy,” I said.
“Maybe it is just the rise in pollution?” she joked. We laughed it off at that moment.
Cities change because people change. The mentality of the society has been gnawing at me. Being a lawyer, I am always exposed to the numerous laws that are defunct. Sometimes I see the over reaching arm of the law. So, Shaheen’s husband must be right then; our experiences must be creating these ‘non-existing’ controversies. Or is our feeling spot on?