In 2015, I moved to Bengaluru and stayed in a studio apartment near Koramangala, the north-eastern part of the city. I started regularly visiting a tea and condiments shop on my way home. It was run by a Malayali who was from a small town in Kerala.
Everyone called him 'PM' and every day I would visit him for a chai with a 'smile' on my face and a 'good morning'. The conversation never moved beyond the usual pleasantries. I never even noticed the name of the shop.
Two years later, when I decided to move out of the place, I decided to share this with PM. I promised to catch up whenever I was around in the same block.
I have moved four houses since then but it had become an unspoken ritual to visit his shop for tea whenever I was in Koramangala.
With our visits becoming infrequent, our conversations got deeper. It was more of asking about each other's health and life.
On March 5, I visited him after a long time. I saw him handing over tea to a customer but shockingly, his shop was empty and PM had tears in his eyes. He was elated to see me.
When I enquired, he responded that it was his last day as he was shutting down the shop permanently and had decided to go back to his village. He was also hoping to move to Dubai for a better job.
I felt a deep sense of sorrow within. As I left, I shook his hand and thanked him for being a great company.
I wanted to stay connected and hence, got his number. I had also instructed him to give me a call in case he needed any help. I dialled his number to give him a missed call so that he could save my number. He received the call to save it and for the first time in six years, he asked, 'What's your name?'
I couldn't find a name for the relationship we shared but I will definitely miss a friend and companion who made me happy and at home in a new city. I hope PM has a great life ahead.
Bengaluru is all about these relationships I earned over time.