By Jyotsna Joshi
Podcast by Apporva Dixit
Gazing at clear skies in the morning, with birds coming to your terrace. Railway Station and City Bus Station within 10 kilometers of distance from wherever you choose to reside in the city. Supermarkets and Hypermarkets- at walking distance, with you going for groceries shopping every weekend. And the best part- your office within 2 kilometers from your home, which takes you less than 15 minutes every day to commute.
I am not talking of some dreamland where people are at leisure and seem happy for the whole day. Nor am I talking of the childhood time that we spent with our parents, back when we attended school. I am taking of the present time: Year 2020, Place Vijayawada. I am in love with the place, and it holds and will forever be etched in my heart with most beautiful memories.
I worked as a Policy & Development Consultant with Government of Andhra Pradesh for five and a half years. And four years out of this time was spent at Vijayawada- the capital city of Andhra Pradesh. With the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh getting bifurcated into Telangana (with capital Hyderabad) and Andhra Pradesh (with capital Vijayawada) in 2014, the decision of moving to Vijayawada was sort of forced on all of us working with this Government Think Tank by 2016 October. Especially then when all of us had graduated from top schools and had stayed in Tier-1 cities, enjoying the cosmopolitan culture of those places. However, with no option left we all packed our baggage and shifted to this city. I still remember how girls and boys in my office would crib all the time on how the city is too small for them to follow a posh lifestyle. And how every weekend they would rush to either Hyderabad of Chennai (both cities nearly 5-6 hours away by rail) in order to enjoy the metro-ness of those cities. Notwithstanding the initial inertia I had of moving in, I fell in love with the place right after the first month of moving here.
The city has had the long history of Satvahana kings and has been a critical railway junction of the South-East of India. Seeing the actor Nagarjuna in the early 90’s running after goons and emerging as college heartthrob- a scene from the movie Shiva which became a block-buster throughout India, nobody had ever imagined that the famous Loyola College where the movie was shot was a highlight of Vijayawada. Well, the city was well etched in the map of India and got immensely highlighted with it becoming the capital city of the state of Andhra Pradesh.
With my marriage round the corner within a span of six months, I came to this city thinking that I would move to my spouse’s place of posting after the wedding. However, things worked out in such a way for us, that within a year of our marriage he got transferred to Vijayawada. And hence we started our household- decorating the living rooms with the fanciest of handicraft items that were available. Vijayawada was so comforting and cozy that each day both of us would reach our respective offices within 10 minutes of time even after starting from home at 9:45 am (for an office beginning at 10 am). Evenings were so pleasant here that by the time we reached our home, around 7 pm and not encountering any traffic jam (courtesy small city), we would sit and leisurely watch some music or dance program. Such joys were unheard of and not experienced by any of our friends who stayed at the metros; as for them reaching home before 7 pm every day, without being stuck in a traffic jam was strange.
Weekends were so eagerly awaited by us. During the weekends we would go to our nearest groceries hypermarket and pick up fresh stock, that would last till the next weekend. We maintained this routine regularly every Sunday for the two and a half years we stayed here. All our friends in big cities would do this on some Mobile Application and order groceries through it, the option for which was also available here; but both of us being the old-school chaps preferred the weekend grocery-shopping.
Another biggest advantage was that Vijayawada had an airport, with even international flights to Dubai & Singapore plying at one point of time. Hence planning a trip to nearby places during long weekends was so much eagerly awaited for. This city had a small international airport (unlike the one that we have at Delhi or Bangalore which seems humongous). The Vijayawada Airport was so compact and convenient that starting from our home even two and a half hours prior to our flight was a ritual; and we managed to reach well in time. Since I have been commuting a lot for last six seven years, airports in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi ensured that I reached there two-three hours before my scheduled flight, due to the long queues at checking-in/security check processes. However, at Vijayawada Airport all would be done within ten to fifteen minutes of time. We had met so many distinguished personalities at the airport here- Baba Ramdev, Subramaniam Swamy, Shekhar Gupta and so on.
One happier part of our stay here was that many multiplexes were at a distance of just two to three kilometers from our home. The nearest multiplex in fact was less than a kilometer from our home. We would see so many movies the very first day itself. And the best part was that for Hindi movies there was less of crows and so easier availability of seats and cheaper tickets for deluxe seats. Football Field, Tennis Court, and Stadium for games like Badminton was well in vicinity, and we managed to go for playing games every week, mostly during weekends. All in all, Vijayawada was too accommodating for us with all its love and warmth.
Now that I am moving to a bigger city- a metro one, along with my husband, I sometimes am lost in thoughts as in whether we will get so much time for ourselves there. I am leaving Vijayawada after four years with so many precious memories and experiences, with few indelible imprints of the place and the lovely people here, in my heart. I just hope that Bangalore also treats us like its children, the same way Vijayawada did and extended its arms for us to embrace us with so much Life.