A Restless Heart : To Move or Not To Move Cities?
“What is this restless urge to move cities so frequently? Why have you been moving around so much?”
“Well, because I am not a tree.” That’s my instant curt reply to the same question asked by numerous people I meet. Surprisingly, I don’t even get annoyed at the question anymore. Believe me you, most people find that answer deep while I am actually laughing in my head.
I have moved to two cities in two different parts of the country in a span of less than two years. I just wake up one day with this strong urge to move, it’s not very random though. There goes a lot of planning, weighing my options, pros and cons analysis to assess those options, some trade off decisions, of course and then finally I make a move. But lately, I have realized there’s a trend. I start planning my exit almost as soon as I get acquainted to a city. I never thought this could be something serious until I came across this beautiful article on the Restless Expat Syndrome by Lucille. She precisely sums up exactly the kind of emotions I go through and I am so glad that I am not alone to be feeling this way.
The Big Move
Apparently, I have also been showing signs of The Restless Expat Syndrome or the Three Year Syndrome. The only difference being, I am not an Expat and I have rarely lasted close to three years at one place. I have been moving around in India itself, one city to another and the urge is far from dying. So, I don’t really know what that kind of compulsive moving around within your own country is called.
I moved to Mumbai a few months back and it took me quite some time to get things sorted around here. Mumbai, mind you, is a city with a high cost of living index. As per Mercer’s 24th annual Cost of Living Survey Mumbai has been ranked 55 and comparatively more expensive than cities like Melbourne, Frankfurt and Stockholm.
I had to almost exhaust my entire savings, whatever meagre it was to get myself a decent apartment, pay exorbitant amount of brokerage charges, almost sell my kidneys to pay the deposit to the landlord and finally convince to multiple parties that being a single woman looking for an apartment doesn’t mean my career revolves around drug peddling or human trafficking (just some Mumbai things!)
So, What is this Restless Syndrome?
So, coming back to this restless syndrome I experience, I find it extremely difficult to stick around for too long. Be it jobs, cities, familiarity or even travel plans, I just can’t stay put. Research shows moving out and about is a traumatic experience for most humans, primarily because we attach to our surroundings at deep emotional levels. It can also be related to almost grieving for many. But wouldn’t it be really sad to live in the same place forever? Not that I mean any offence to all the people who do that. Afterall, it is human to be stable, but isn’t it also human to be moving around so much?
So, without further struggles to validate my thought process about moving, I have started enjoying it. It is fun to discover a place like a local, and what better than becoming one. The excitement of discovering where the nearest hospital is (given the fact that I am also a hypochondriac, will delve in there sometime later though!), finding a nearby market, or cool cafes, or shopping for the best kind of dustbins and magic mops all over again are few of the things I like doing for my wellness.
I set up a cosy abode, every time. Most of the times I do it in the hope that the sense of hygge gives me a concrete reason to stick by this time. I grow roots, I get attached to humans and non-living things alike. That may sound bizarre but growing up as a lonely kid, my childhood comprised of conversations with the most inanimate things I owned. I get attached to doors, windows, streets, the aroma of freshly baked bread akin to a certain street, water-logging of streets in the monsoons, the stray dog I was too petrified to feed biscuits to despite being a compassionate soul and just about anything. And yet I leave.
“You are running away from life.”
“Are you scared of commitment?”
“Now you should ideally settle down, get married and procreate.”
No, I am not running away from life neither am I a commitment phoebe. I am actually letting life show me so many places.
Duh! I would love to settle somewhere, it’s a cozy feeling after all.
Of all the things marriage is definitely not the answer to my restlessness for sure.
Also, I am not seeking anything specific as such. I am just overpowered by the whole experience of starting anew in places I am not familiar with or places where I know no one. And it is a liberating exercise in multiple ways. Expensive one too, but that’s the kind of splurging and therapy I believe in.
Home is a Relative Concept
Over the time I have realized, home is a relative concept. It is where you come back to and feel happy, safe or hygge irrespective of the time period you spend there. As a college kid I often referred to my dorm room as my home in conversations. When one day a friend remarked, “You mean you are going back to your room after the classes not home, because your home is in Gangtok.” Left me pondering actually, why such bizarre notions about “Home”? My dorm room was my home, my home where my parents live is my home, the 1 room studio apartment in Gurgaon was my home, the rooms I shared with other girls in paying guests was my home, and the rooms in homestays or hotels I stay at are also my homes, for that tiny period of time.
So far, I have moved to 19 such homes(excluding hotel stays of course!) in 6 different cities! Home is definitely where the heart is and in those brief associations with anything close to a home, my heart truly resides in the moment. While I leave behind a part of me in these homes, I manage to take along a bit of those homes as well, in me and my memories.
My life has been a drama of utmost chaos, a saga of contradicting emotions and absolutely crappy decisions but what the hell! I have just one life to live and see as many places as I can in this very lifetime. So, why waste any opportunity at all?
So, here I am, sitting by the window of my tiny yet cosy 1bhk apartment in Mumbai, sipping my nth cup of hot chai on a rainy evening, with a growing resolve ,to fall in love head over heels with this city till whatever time I am here. And in my restless urges and chaos I seem to have found my ground, my home.
Have you guys felt the same? What are your thoughts about moving around countries or cities? Do you associate home to your native alone of is it a relative concept for you too? I would sooo love to know that I am not the only one here with such restlessness caged inside a tiny lil heart.