This blue marble

– and yet it spins

About cities as friends

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september-1Each city resonates with us in different ways. We all feel at home in one place and like a foreigner in another. We develop relationships with each city: one is a friend to have coffee with but not more than once a year. Another is a long-lost friend who instantly embraces and the past ten out-of-touch years are wiped away. A third is a contact who supports our everyday lives ambivalently like a shop clerk or a distant colleague.

And then there are the great lovestories and the great complications. Cities that love us but struggle to let us leave, amidst a thunder storm and airport strike. Cities that charm us initially but then turn to annoy us by closing the post office when we need it and ensuring everybody elbows us when we are carrying groceries.

Cambridge is for me a place of crossroads. It is a charming English cobblestoned bubble I struggled to leave, but it is also a place where I felt distress, turbulence, and where my life took a totally different turn. My Cambridge has equal measures of sunlight and darkness.

And so, as I stood in the full moonlight waiting to be let in to the chapel at King’s for evensong, I thought of a Cantabrigian friend who once said that life is bittersweet and that it is okay as long as it is more sweet than it is bitter. Surrounded by the college walls, the night air filled with wisdom of ages past and to come, I decided Cambridge weighs heavier on the sweet. And I let myself be enveloped by the city and its air that carries inspiration and intellect and science and art and life – the kind of life that is geared towards a better future.

Cambridge-1(Trinity College and King’s College chapel, Cambridge, UK; October 2014)

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