Year 2005. The twenty five year old myself had to make that phenomenal move from Hyderabad to Vizag in course of a project migration at work. Vizag. I have heard so much about the place from people all my life. Born and raised thoroughly by parents with two different origins, I knew all about surviving on the dry land and nothing about camping near the shore.
After two months of a serious business trip to the United States, I was instructed along with the rest of the team to pack my bags and head to the popular coastal landmark of Andhra. The feeling was both exciting and apprehensive at one go. For a Hyderabadi, the feeling was nothing short of a promising adventure.
What would I do when I moved there? I thought. Most of us experience premeditated assumptions about moving into an unknown territory. I was no exception. But I looked forward to it. There was something magical about the prospects of making a base of your own near the sea shore. Albeit poetic more than realistic.
A massive switch from Telangana to the moist coast called Vishakhapatnam. Trust me when I say it, it wasn’t easy at all. Folks from Hyderabad act alien to the beach weather. I was down with a weird kind of sickness the minute I landed there. The airport was small, and there was a brief sense of being at St Barts for a while.
I checked into the Hotel GreenLands. I was to stay there till I found my own place. People were warm, affectionate and spoke in a typical coastal accent that was so hard to mimic. I loved my morning trips to the buffet, a brilliant excuse to interact with the staff who were local. Vizag, the place was quiet and laid back. People led simple lives, did their own thing and never bothered others. The beautiful city with clean roads and buildings. The apartments overlooked the beach road and I would walk down the whole path from Ramakrishna Math to the point of submarine Kursura. The once stalwart warrior of the seas stands right on the pathway of the Beach Road, emulating strength and tolerance to the mankind.
The first few weeks were all about taking a rickshaw ride and breeze past RK beach, like a child. Living by the sea, I felt like a gypsy who wandered off from the chaotic metro life to a subdued region that sent out the soft whispers of tranquillity. There was not a single moment, getting tired of the walks by the beach or enjoying a cup of coffee with stale samosa sometimes.
There was a terrific choice with living conditions. I could either live near the mountains (Seethamadhaara) or by the sea side (Beach Road, MVP Colony etc). I moved twice into two different houses and lived at both the places. Just for the love of the locations.
Vizag tends to leave a strong impact on people hailing from outside. After traversing various places, I found the coast to be gentle, soothing and poetic. You get this sudden quiet inside your head happening, mingling with closed groups and the society where everyone knew everyone else. After few weeks of trying to know my way around, I finally figured it all out. I could just hop into a rickshaw and go wherever I wanted. There was no fear of being cornered or raped. Well, at least not in Vizag and certainly not in 2005.
People of Vizag treat girls very specially. I could infer this very confidently after my experiences with the landlords I rented with. Mrs Reddy who lived upstairs was my owner and would whip up yummy dishes for her favourite girl who lived downstairs to slog with night shifts. I can but never forget the warmth and hospitality, something not necessarily shown to the tenants and non-locals all the time. The local domestic helps and their fishermen husbands were all about discussing the little chatter of what was happening in the neighbourhood in their trademark accent, referred to as ‘Yaasa’. Some of them were the diehard fans of Telugu movies and assumed that Hyderabad was only about film stars who lived in their big houses and roamed in luxury cars.
Living in Vizag taught me two very important things – patience and independence. I would make my way to the Spencers Hypermarket to fetch my own monthly groceries. I would run a house single handed, with my humble earnings while my parents came to visit and feel proud of how far I have come in life. I would frequently take them on little trips to the in house scenic weekend getaways in the form of Yaarada and Rishikonda. I felt all grown up!
That’s it. There was no looking back ever since Vizag in my life. The place equipped me fully to deal with situations while letting me admire the serenity. I can easily state that every day was a memorable one, in the confines of this beautiful port city that mixed old with the new. There is a certain element of grandiose in Vizag that stays forever.
Too bad I had to get promoted and move back to the chaotic best once again. Nevertheless, time freeze on my Vizag of 2005.