04 August 2006

Achieving balance

Our love for a place doesn’t happen through tourist brochures or research on the Net or even through quick fits of yearning when we travel to a new destination (though I’ve heard this has happened to some), but by building close relationships with them over time. Most of these relationships are built slowly, painfully. A new place means making adjustments: new neighbourhoods, new shopping experiences, new traffic, new schedules, new sights and smells and noises – and new people.

The truth is, when we connect with places, we connect with the people there. It’s unlikely that we would love a place if we felt, and/or believed, the people there were awful. Our love for a place and its people is usually one – and inseparable. No mater what our motivation is for moving to a new place, a relationship with a place usually means building relationships with its people.

So, when I moved from Kolkata to Mumbai – a career move made some 12 years ago – I turned to my profession for support. Not for economic support in terms of finding jobs or assignments, but from the point of view of using my professional learning and experience to smooth out the rough edges of moving in to a new place and building new relationships. Alas, I was at a loss. My profession, marketing communication, was not much help here.

It’s not that marketing communication doesn’t deal with relationships – it definitely does. But its relationships are not with people, nor with places. It encourages us to build relationships with products and services and retail stores… in effect, with brands. In effect, with something quite intangible! Not only did I discover this, I found that, in my profession, relationships are expected to be instant. Here and now. Leaving me very little time to sit back and enjoy it all.

It was dismaying – even unnerving – at first; but after 12 years, I seem to have achieved some sort of balance.

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