My journey from Mumbai to Pune has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride.
With all the highs and lows, I’m proud that I survived and am still surviving. I faced problems, but moreover, I faced real challenges. These challenges hurt me, but transformed me.
I was happy and full of life until the CET (Common Entrance Test) results were out and the list on my computer screen read ‘Pune.’ I had two choices: either to drop the idea of relocating and, with it, my dream of becoming a doctor, or to go to a completely new place and play the game to get the title.
I chose the latter. On November 1 2016, I was in Pune, a city completely different from my hometown. For me, it was a bit easy as I knew I wouldn’t have to go through the process of adjusting to a hostel, since I was going to stay with my aunt. I immediately felt a sigh of relief when I got to know this. But, then came the challenges.
Pune as a city was good enough, but it did not give me any feeling of home. Mumbai was home, and I had thought Pune would be too, given the proximity between the two cities and that they’re part of the same state. But, that was not the case. There was no sea to drown my sadness in.
Over the years, I’ve learnt that Pune is slower than Mumbai. The life here is slow, the people are relaxed, and it is silent, rather, peaceful. What they called ‘peaceful’ was mere silence for me because I was used to the honking of cars at 3:00 a.m. and a life lived in fast forward.
In the initial days, I started cocooning myself and hardly made any friends. People from college thought I was a snobbish girl and a spoilt brat. I hated being away from my family and friends. I did not like the crowd in Pune. Since I had no friends, I started feeling lonely and homesick. The city I once loved to go to for a weekend getaway became the city I hated the most.
Travelling to college was another big challenge for me, as I was used to the ‘car and driver’ lifestyle. Unlike Mumbai, there were no trains or buses every five minutes and the only way to commute was an auto rickshaw. Whenever I went home, I would only cry and regret my decision of choosing to study in Pune. My greatest weakness was living without my parents. This started to affect me mentally and emotionally. I had to give it time, I knew, but I also had to have the will to make this work.
By the end of first year, I started giving Pune and the people around me a chance. I made friends at college, who, like me, had homes far away from Pune and had to live in hostels. I considered myself lucky that I at least had my aunt as a support system. I started to open myself up and made friends for a lifetime.
I started accepting the fact that the sacrifices I made and efforts I put in would never go in vain. I started to fare well in my tests and exams, as I studied hard with the support of my family and friends.
I realised that Pune was not only different from Mumbai, but different in its own beautiful way. It has its own charm. I visited new places and met new people. I started to understand the routes and commuting to college became easier. I started to appreciate myself and gathered self-esteem; I secured the third rank in my first year. I realised that there was no success without hard work and sacrifice.
Moreover, I started feeling comfortable in the environment that I once felt most uncomfortable in. The people I once thought I’d never get along with had now taken an irreplaceable place in my heart.
The way life unfolds is unpredictable, but the way we face it depends on us. It’s hard to keep in touch with everybody, but then that’s life. I consider it as an indirect way to discover myself out of my comfort zone.
Today, I am proud that I tackled all the challenges and came out as a stronger and a better person. I have become independent and nothing gives me more joy. When I look back at those days, I feel proud that I lived through them and didn’t give up.
Leaving our hometown affects us all in different ways and on different levels. But I have realized, what we do need to do is give it time: time to understand how the new place works; time to the people around us because they might be facing their own challenges; time to ourselves to adjust to the chance and try to fit in.
The grumpy face I once used to make on hearing ‘Pune’ has now become a happy face, because the feeling of going back to my friends makes me feel happier than ever.
Going home is always the best time, but coming back even better. Pune is how my home away from home and I love it.