Sometimes you miss the bright lights. The cinema halls and the restaurants and the food courts, the late night shows and midnight buffets, the neighbourhood general stores that stay open till 10 pm for any emergency shopping, and the streets that quieten only after midnight. You miss the shopping malls and fancy brands and the back alleys where everyone goes to buy their clothes. The festival season and end-of-season sales where everyone has a competition on who offers the most discounts; and store cards and discount coupons, though you never used them. You miss the big bookstores and the fact that you can sit and read there for hours and nobody cares. The shopping area which turns into a second-hand book market on Sundays, and rare books that you discover at unbelievably cheap prices. You miss having a lot of free time on weekends and holidays and going on unplanned trips with friends. The strange fact that even in such a big city there would be a familiar face to run into at almost every place, although you keep a very small circle of friends. The fact that you feel younger, never weighed down by the pressure that comes from all your friends being married and gone, and being an anonymous face in a city of millions.
Twenty months have passed since the relocation, and you begin to feel that things are quietening down a bit. People no longer stop you to ask when you arrived and give their verdict on your weight and looks. Questions about what you do for a living since coming here have stopped. You have met your old friends and are pleased to discover that the friendship is still there. Now you can somewhat match the names and faces of people, especially young people who you have to identify through their parents. You are shocked, however, to see that people from your generation are now beginning to look old, which brings a horrific realisation that you must look the same. Random faces seen around town slowly stop resembling people from the old city. New friends slowly emerge, and a few old friends reappear. You discover that you know more people than you are aware of, and find a familiar face or two in almost every place. It’s a small town, and everyone knows everyone else, so there is always a common link with any new person you meet; this however is comforting and frightening at the same time. You could roam about and nobody would care who you are and what you do, and it feels wonderful being anonymous in a city of thousands.