Cities of Joy

The question “where are you from” always confuses me. I am a Bengali. I have been living in New Delhi for the last 11 months. My parents live in Delhi, but plan to return to Kolkata some day. I have lived in Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata for seven years each.  My usual response is that I am a Bengali living in Delhi. Am I a Delhiite? Something about belonging to a city does not make me comfortable at the moment. Last week, a friend from Bangalore who had tried to dissauade us from relocating to Delhi, came over. He was critical of his experience in the city. I found myself defending Delhi to everyone’s surprise. As my father was in the government service, we’ve had the opportunity to live in four cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, and Kolkata. I made amazing friends in each of the cities and stay in each of these places was enjoyable because of the people around me. I guess that is what made me fall in love with Bangalore as -well. I had only one pre-existing friend when I came to Bangalore and by the time I left, I made some more great friends. I know some in my friends circle who hate Banaglore. Does having good friends and family around make a city livable and lovable? Can it help grin and accept the aggression of the city, its roads, and all other unsavoury aspects? My father is often asked which city he liked the best. His response has always been the same. He liked them all and thoroughly enjoyed his stay in each of the cities. I guess the same holds true for me as well – they have all been cities of joy in some way or the other.

Now on to more mundane things!  I made this kala channa last week. It is similar to a sundal that is usually made in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka during Ganesh Chaturthi. Here is the recipe.


1/2 cup kala channa (soaked overnight and then pressure cooked)

Pinch of asafoetida

1 tsp mustard seeds

6-7 curry leaves

1 finely chopped onion

1 finely chopped chilli

1 tsp jaggery

2 tsps grated cocount

Salt to taste

1 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp oil


Heat the oil and then add the curry leaves, asafoetida, and mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the onions and cook for about 5-7 minutes. Add the chopped chilli, channa, jaggery, salt, and lime juice. Toss for another 7 minutes. Finely added the grated cocount and turn the gas off. This can be had just like this as a snack or with rotis and dal.

Kala Channa




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4 responses to “Cities of Joy

  1. Home is where the heart is. I have lived in 8 cities and studied in 7 of them, Ethnically I am from Tamil Nadu, but have never lived there. I love Mumbai, and I can say very easily that is where I am from.
    It is easy to say that now as I too went through a period of confusion of identity and belonging.

  2. I resonate with your thoughts.

  3. Deepa

    I coudn’t agree more with you either. I think i have liked each of the cities I have lived in – won’t be able to spell out the reasons why.

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