Cities are personalities. The kind that influences yours too. Not just the outer you but the core of it. Repeatedly brushing it with faint strokes. For days. And then they leave you in colors you’d have not known to be there. Fathoming combinations that hitherto existed in a faraway reality. Stuff that they show in movies you rewatch and in books that take you places. The same brushes paint you silently.

The lack of resistance and the need to experience the aura of these cities, the vibe check and a stay that absorbs it all. Slow roasting the pot of your marinated soul. A city can do that.

The memory of the other city fades away like a different self you left behind in the bylanes. Photographed away, somewhere.

Over years of living in the shell of our ageing bodies, we realize that we are one of these cities. A vibe match that struck a deal with that same inner core.

The gloom of it, the sun of that or the ripples of water touching you or just the snow falling outside the window or just the cherry blossom paving your path back home on a Sunday afternoon post-lunch. Any of the above. One or maybe more. Calling you like an azaan. Asking you to come.

From windows of crowded buses as you eye the seat shifting to the air brushing past your ears as the tyres move away in the traffic, cities change. The noise remains, but the noises change. So does the silences.

Leaving one, or arriving at a new one, or returning after a decade is surreal when you stop to think and mundane if you continue walking. Imperfect interpretations of what it can mean change with a new brushstroke of the city.

The city changes your lehza. One lafz at a time.

The silence of the nights, staring at the ceiling or the silhouettes of passengers outside long windows ask questions on coping better with it all. Does a better way exist? In this city or that?