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A Small Town Life

This week there was so much to write about; about the mentality re-exposed by the documentary India’s Daughter, the Railway Budget, the stringent raise of censorship in India and the breeding of a radical ideology in India.

But since I haven’t written for quite some time now, I believe I should stick to something more humanistic, something more personal. Hence here I write about an attitude, an attitude that is very hard to find in a city like Delhi, in fact even in Guwahati. I am talking about a mentality that is prevalent in the small towns of India.

Lately I travelled to Hisar, a town in Haryana and then to Agra. Also, in the last two months I have been to Assam twice. All these trips were basically an escape, an escape from the monotonous cosmopolitan lifestyle I adore the most. This much sought after lifestyle creates a void and drives you out of warmth. Hence to survive a superficial society and a pretentious existence, we head out. A lot of it is explained by the increasing number of college trips, official and unofficial, something very prevalent in Delhi University. Apart from fun, trips usually prove to be an escape from the superficial life students lead or are forced to lead.

It’s a little difficult to streamline my thoughts here, but there is a certain feeling which you feel in a small town that pulls you back to that place again and again. I have spent my entire childhood summer vacations in a town called Barpeta in Assam. With a population of about 41, 175 (census 2001) in and around the small town, it’s a place which you have never heard of. In fact, the entire town is smaller than Lajpat Nagar of Delhi in terms of area.

Barpeta Town

There are no malls, no food chains, and no multiplexes. Yet what you have is peace. Residents back there know each other. Back in Guwahati, it was really impossible for us to spend some lively time with our neighbours. Barpeta, which was my maternal place, was basically an escape window for all of us. Our parents made sure that both me and my sister understood what actually life is, because in cities you end up leading a robotic schedule or lifestyle. It was actually these occasional visits that taught me the value of humanistic interaction and filled me with sentiments of humanity. Usually residents of metros have this capability of letting certain things not affect them. For example, let’s face it, your neighbour is seriously ill, how much time will you be able to spare for him/her. Almost negligible I guess. But back there, neighbours are like family. Not only they join in your happy moments but also stand by you during your hard times. This is something which is rare, at least in Guwahati and New Delhi. This might look like a 3rd standard essay, but these are things which we forget easily and reminded time and again.

However, there was one thing that cannot be ignored here. No wonder how much we adore small towns and their lifestyles, we simply cannot imagine ourselves being settled there. Metro lifestyle is like a drug, you know it sucks the human out of you, yet you cannot let it out of you. Every time I enter the periphery of Delhi, I know my freedom is here, but there are vibes of sadness. Why sad? Probably because I realize that I am entering a world of pretentious scavengers, leaving behind my simple life.
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Amlan Das Amlan Das Author

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