I recently heard Adam Savage describe his move from Manhattan to San Francisco as “life-turning”. Manhattan, in his opinion, is a place built on and for ambition. The people who get their work out and get seen in Manhattan have busted their ass to do it because it’s the singular focus in their life. San Francisco on the other hand, he says, is one of the “great cities in the world for finding your ambition”. In San Francisco, Adam was able to stumble into his ambition by trying out and doing things.
When I heard this, I recounted my own experienced of moving from Mumbai after 8 years of living there, to Bengaluru, the land of great opportunities. I loved science, specially physics and I studied hard to get into IIT Bombay because I considered the best school in the country. After I joined though, I gave up on trying to become an engineer when I realised how smart everyone else was. I started pursuing my second dream and went to great lengths to become an artist but most places closed their doors on me for not being good enough. Failing that, I tried to earn a living being a designer while working nights my startup. The startup didn’t work and my long work hours left me drained and weary. Each year was a struggle but each struggle had its high points and exhilaration which kept me going.
Which is when I moved to Bengaluru. I was greeted with a plethora of options. I chose to try learning software development because it felt like everyone was doing it. I got into boardgaming because how do you spend your evenings in Bengaluru apart from trying out craft beers. I soon found my group of people. When software development didn’t work out for me, I thought about getting back into design. Postman (a well known product) took me in with arms wide open. I’m in my fourth year in Postman (the longest I’ve been with in any one place), and I’m still trying out writing, running a design community etc. These do tie-in together with my work but they didn’t need to. Bengaluru encouraged me to try out things.
My wife who’s still in love with Mumbai after moving to Bengaluru says:
In Mumbai you can’t sleep even at 1AM knowing that thousands of people are still up, trying to get a bit ahead of everyone. In Bengaluru, you call it a day early on, and then you have your sweet time for trying out other things, which might or might not further your goal in life”.
What’s your pick?
It’s not like one city is better than other. If you know what you want out of Mumbai, then Mumbai is the right place for you. If you are struggling to find the right thing, Bangalore is more welcoming. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, which is why you end up doing great things in Mumbai if you persist. But Bengaluru thrives on curiosity and experimentation. Take your pick!