Cologne – a city that you don’t just live in, you live it. It’s the most casual, no-judgement space that I have ever been in. I have seen a lady parading the streets in semi-couture. On the same street is another girl, riding her bike, with hair wrapped in a towel as she probably went for a swim earlier. It’s a space to be you. Whoever, whatever, however you want to be. No pressure.

Unlike Karachi and Dubai, Cologne actually sees all 4 seasons. Spring when flowers bloom and pollen causes allergic outbreaks. Summer that burns the same flowers but offers the perfect excuse to be an unapologetic mermaid. Autumn with its moodiness and romantic, rusty, fallen leaves. And finally fall, with an eerie silence and adhoc magical snowfall.

I first came to Cologne in autumn, back in 2014, and fell instantly in love. Streets were lined with fallen leaves, there was a chill in the air, tiny rain droplets felt like an endearing caress, and the city was cloaked in romance. Right out of a Bollywood movie. And to date, autumn remains my favourite of all seasons.

If I had to warn you about one thing in Cologne, it would have to be the pace. It has a very relaxed lifestyle on most days. People are not rushing. Most are patient. Work-life balance is exemplary. Evenings in the park or a beer garden are a fully acceptable idea for social life.

For some sectors, like fashion and lifestyle, the clock works exceptionally slow, with few and far in between action episodes. I have had to often travel to our dear dorf next door (aka Düsseldorf) for events, launches and such. It’s not luxe. Heels don’t click against cobbled streets very often (neither should they, if you love your shoes) and scarlet lips are a very rare treat. Dressing for clubs is optional. 

I can imagine a certain kind of people settling in fabulously here. Others, especially fashion and beauty enthusiasts, might find themselves on ICE to one city or another. Hence, I am moving on. I loved Cologne in my last few weeks here more than I did cumulatively in last three years. The notion that it will soon be a chapter from my past has made this city a tad bit sweeter.