Call it a little town that is barely alive; or a quaint city trying to live up to the urbanisation that is thrust upon it – but our city is unique in so many ways that every transferee who spends a year or more here falls in love. A few characteristic traits of the city that is Vizagapatnam.
Uber Cosmopolitan, oh yes!
Vizag is as uniquely non-Andhra (read: cosmopolitan) as it is an intrinsic part of the Andhra culture. It is a pleasant hotchpotch of perhaps every State of India with a smattering of countries from across the globe blended in the mix. A small bay city on the south-eastern coast of the country, it is home to a medley of cultures and languages; we have so many regional festivals celebrated here with just as gusto as the traditional Telugu festivities are celebrated. But one aspect of Vizagites is our quest for the… um, truth? The warnings of a Tsunami or cyclone will drive most of the imprudent city dwellers towards the beach. Hey, sit at home and miss all the action?! Who will Boomerang the awesome waves if not us?
The city’s showpiece(s?)
Our pride and joy – the beach, the submarine museum, the Kailasagiri, the Telugu museum, the ropeway, the picturesque coastal road to Bheemili…. The city has many wondrous sights that vie for prominence. Though, the beach wins hands down! In a manner it defines the city and is THE place to host just anything – a flash mob, a protest, a political rally, celebrations… want to voice your say: gather a crowd, a few banners and head to the beach. But perhaps the best ‘use’ of the beach is the ‘katta’ or low wall along the beach road. We head to the beach because we ‘love’ the sea, the breeze, the waves… and we express our love by em…ur, face the bustling polluted main road while sitting.
Song, dance, drama, classical programmes, art shows, rock shows… albeit a far cry from the metros, Vizag has its fair share of the classical arts, rock bands and theatre. Regular art shows at swanky hotels and art galleries are catching up too. In fact we Vizagites are so much in love with displaying our ‘art’ and decorating the city that come any political meet or rally every street, road divider and junction is festooned with colours of the party – to the extent that directions and traffic signals too are lost under the colourful display.
The inexplicable complex
Art aside, the biggest masterpiece in the city is the one-town area. Narrow lanes chock-a-block with busy bustling businesses dealing in crores on a daily basis, gold traders, small-time vendors, cramped tuition centres, hotels… you name it and you can find it! The narrow lanes of the old city are a treasure trove of just anything you wish to procure – vegetables, antiques, fine jewellery, smuggled stuff, traditional medicines, wholesales and more. Amazingly, there are big business houses in lanes where even a two-wheeler has to manoeuvre with difficulty!
A non-existent phenomenon in most of the city, a pedestrian path is more successfully used as a shopping arena with carts and stalls using the whole breadth, or as advertising space with stands planted smack in the way or better yet as parking spaces for the umpteen cars and two-wheelers. Consequently, the ever nimble pedestrian is adept at dodging vehicles and sharing space on the road itself with cattle, vehicles, potholes…
The ever-expanding boundaries
Once upon a time the city was defined by its natural geographical boundaries – the sea and the ancient Eastern Ghats. Then came ‘urbanisation’ and the city expanded to just beyond the hills. Then came further modernisation and the city spread even further. The ‘land-hungry’ city now borders the neighbouring districts such that Vizag ‘city’ almost encompasses the whole of Vizag ‘district’!
A city of walkers
Walking is a big draw in the city – we all drive our swanky cars, exotic two-wheelers, and sturdy dependable vehicles of all sorts to take a walk! With quite a few well maintained parks dotting the cityscape and the beach road being vehicle free in the mornings, many Vizagites take an early drive to indulge in some petrol guzzling, early morning walking, gupshup, and green tea/ragi malt along the sea.
The Pride of Vizag
And ending on a positive note, we applaud with a sense of nationalistic pride the presence of the Eastern Naval Command. Headquartered in Vizag, the Navy influence is perceptive in many aspects relating to the city. Like the Vizag marathon, which is a now an annual affair was initiated by the health-conscious Navy personnel. We Vizagites rather indulge in sweets and ‘specials’ all day what with the umpteen sweet shops around.
Take a stroll down our famous beach road you might come across more North Indians than Andhraites, but mind you- they are all true blue Vizagites. Retired, employed or active with a business; many have settled in Vizag out of choice – just for the sheer love for the city.