Saturday, 31 August 2013

2 Separate Rule-Books

First a little experience to be shared.

Here I was with my weekly vegetables in a bag, standing in the queue of the supermarket cash counter, and there was my better half taking the little one for on-demand push-cart spins. I thought gleefully how, as usual, I had chosen the less strenuous task of the day, when a big belly of a 40-something pushed its way in front of where my belly, if I had one, should have been. I would have pinched him into his rightful place, but for his 12-something son by his side who was nearly my height and weight and seemed like a loyal one who would come to fisticuffs in order to “protect” his daddy from a wild looking woman’s attack. (Their similar mohawks almost suggested a cult!) So, I acted prim and asked him to get in the queue, and certainly behind me.

This is a queue only, na!” he answered with a smattering of that accent my community loves to use at high decibels. “Sure is, but your place is behind me, not in front of me" I mustered.

To read more, please click here.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

China, the Hairy Dog and my Spectacles

China is always up to something naughty. No, I do not just mean playing hopscotch on our side of the LAC. I speak of more important matters! For instance, last Christmas I bought an air-filled Santa Claus for my son. When the cycle pump did the needful, we all realized how this Santa was indeed Chinese. Then, only this Holi, the Made in China water gun read ‘Holy Hey, I Love India’ on a multi-coloured flag, and I had to dump the incorrect version of the national symbol and language by removing the sticker as soon as was possible. Even the toys at the red lights are getting more expensive, and their lights and jingles hardly lasting more than a day now, when once they sang for a good number of Chinese New Year days. I feel cheated! 

While I was still in my ‘why me?’ mode, I read how a zoo in China went ahead and dressed a Tibetan mastiff in furry brown coat, putting it in the African lion’s cage (which was on breeding leave). Even though the dog did a damn good bark-a-roar, the zoo visitors caught the act and returned home feeling very cheated. The dog lost his job and the zoo its credibility. In the mean time, I gained some comfort in numbers, of those who, like me, believe that China is indeed always up to something naughty.

And then, the spectacles happened. (I cannot entirely blame the ‘Made in China’ tags which I have been obsessively watching out for whenever shopping in malls or Monday markets. But I tell you, I am sure their minuteness had a role to play in giving me my first pair of spectacles.) 

It dropped like a bomb, my eye doctor’s "Number toh ha’, par bahut zara sa. Just wear them while working on the computer, driving or watching TV." The solace of the latter half of his verdict fell on deaf ears, blind eyes and a mind busy with - There go my eyes. It will be downwards from now on. The glasses will get thicker, the eyes smaller. The death of the kajal pencil the reign of soft-cloth-to-wipe-them-thus in times of dal tadka or rainy days. Shades of eye shadow bye-bye and shadows under eyes hello. How will I wear my favourite polka dotted hair band along with my glasses, without crowding the back of my ears? No more use in fluttering of lashes to work my way into my husband’s wallet or that look-in-the-eye which tells my son, stop fussing in public! Hai, I am blind. By .5 and .7 but I am indeed blind, and will only go blinder and then blindest. There’s even a minus there, already.

"Let’s go get you some sexy ones," he chirped gleefully, as if sadistically happy for getting the No Number in My Eyes certificate, after this routine visit to the eye doctor spelled trouble only for me. Three stores and 30 brands later, I had not found a pair that suited my fancy. This was going to take some time, and convincing, he must have mused. So, with carpe diem stamped on his face the next day, he took me to the last-but-only optician central Dehra Dun had to offer. History repeated itself as glasses all shades and shapes went into the rejection box, even as the man behind the counter thought it was inspirational saying "spectacular spectacles" with his lovable pahari accent (and looks) to every piece he pushed towards me.

The 157th one was on my nose when my man said - "This is lovely. You look like what you should – A Writer." There, he had used the W-word, knowing fully-well how this will seal the deal in my head. And it sure did! Two days of unconvincing samples, convincing flattery and eventual emptying of wallet later, I had become the proud owner of my first-ever pair of spectacles.

As they lie harmfully under-used but harmlessly sleeping over the latest-most important news from China, I wonder if my husband had tricked me into buying these by saying the W-word, just like the zoo-keeper in China tricked his people with his version of a lion. What if my readers see through me with my glasses, even as I don these "writerly" ones under all self-delusions of not just looking like a published author but writing like one too? And what if my bark writing is a give-away of how I too, like the dog in the lion’s cage, am just another wannabe with the right paraphernalia but barking in the wrong place and at the wrong time? A lion with a dog’s bark or a dog trying to roar? Worse of all, a dog thinking he is indeed a lion, and daring to write about it too. Phew! 

So much for these ‘spectacular spectacles’ and for my husband’s 6/6 eye sight! They are going back in the box, where they belong. I am not that blind, and certainly not as yet. 

Now, why can’t I see the darned box anywhere? 

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Darned Things He Says

This epic post is all about what things my son can say,
Oh dear Gods forgive me, what darned words this may contain.
Parents too I will advice, throw not caution to the air,
Shut those eyes the moment you see what shouldn’t be here.

The first cry was just a mew, but that didn’t last a day,
“Ailaa Ailaa” is how he howled when he wanted to have his way.
Filmy and sweet is what you say, but lightening too once struck, 
When Miss Punjabi heard “Laila Laila” for herself, uttered.

To read more, please click here

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Tina Ambani's 'must haves'

I must have so acted ... I am unable to recall the role played by … It must have been transacted … He (Anil) must have attended the meeting, I do not recall as the meeting took place long back in 2006.

To most questions of the interrogators to do with the allegations that the company Swan was the front runner for her husband’s Reliance Telecom in the 2G spectrum allocation, Tina Ambani had the above to say. Now, if I understood business well enough, I would be sitting on CNBC showering my biz acumen around or getting it printed in peach-coloured news papers. While that I cannot dream of doing any time soon, here is what I can do – think and think back!

I wonder if you see what I see - the epic usage of 'must haves'. 

To read more, please click here.

Friday, 23 August 2013

When Opposites Distract

Once upon a honey-sweet time when you got married, you made a little foot-note in your dear diary how opposites attract. How you and your spouse are made for each other because you complement each other in habits and traits. For instance, one talks too much the other laughs too little, he loves the outdoors she loves her bed, she likes sweet and he loves spicy till his nose runs. In good times the list is what sweet surrender (read adjustment-glossed-over) is made of. But once your tot arrives, the N-pole and the S-pole of the magnet called parenting often become infinitely difficult to make meet or manage, and at such times all magnetism-of-opposites goes flying out the window and opposition takes its place.

You know what I am talking about... 

To read more, please click here.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

What's so insanely special about Dilliwalahs

‘Insanely special’ is not a coincidental combination of words. It is as exclusive a coinage as the people it is being used for here – the dilliwalahs. If I was to ask you to draw a picture of a person from Delhi, chances are you will either fall short of colours in your crayon box, or you will fail to depict the maddening energy that those from Delhi enjoy. Even words may not do justice to this special “tribe”– which knows the right mix of culture, curry and creativity to make their everyday life extraordinary. But we can try, can’t we?


Delhi always looks like a million dollars, and it knows the art of not spending a dime to dress itself such. The regional heterogeneity in its dressing sense is what makes it a ‘melting pot’ of, well, costumes! Cross the Yamuna and you shall see resplendent sequinned saris and fashion jewellery that would have put Jodha Bai’s to shame with its shine, if not the cost. Come West and the story continues, albeit with greater proportion of everything, the money spent and the glamour gained, both. The gota-zari dupattas of women and silken turbans of men express a royalty that deserves the BMW’s cushy seat they move in. South is a different story. Fab silk saris with leaves and worli and all things traditional, jewellery called junk but costing a whole junk-yard’s resale value and over-used kohl pencil is not uncommon. The English-speaking sophistication and the arty-ology is something that most South dilliwalahs reflect. Perhaps, going North wards will not be much different from how the rest of Delhi is clad – in all its glory – whether with royally deep pockets or deeply royal thinking it matters not! If this unity in dressing diversity is not insanely special, then what is?


What do you mean by thinking that driving in Delhi no longer begins with the letter ‘D’? I understand that rash and road rage both with an ‘R’ but that does not mean the letter ‘D’ has been silenced (or run over). With such distances to cover who has the time to use the brakes, I ask? And do you think a South Delhi Merc or a West Delhi Lamborghini was meant to be driven at turtle speed? Or that crossing a whole river to leave the East behind can happen at snail’s pace? A dilliwalah knows what it takes to save time on the road, and save his life in the mean time too. Why else do you think cars have Hanumans hanging on the rear view mirrors or little red bow-and-arrows stuck to the motor cycles’ speedometers? God is great, and so is the speed that he moves in, or so I gather looking at that jet driving past me at 80 km/hour in bumper-to-bumper traffic with the little God stuck to the dashboard holding on for his dear life. Insanely special – this faith in one’s reflexes as well as faith in God’s protective hands, both! Oh, and it’s not ‘right of way’ but ‘Right ho, vey!’ If you have heard that, you have not been driving the Delhi way!

Partying and Celebrating

 Dilliwalahs do not eat to live, they live to eat and drink, and eat a little more, and drink so much more if it’s on the house. Dining out is not just reserved for special days like birthdays and karva chauth dinners, but just about any day you fancy a certain cuisine – be it Punjabi Chinese, eat-all-you-can Rajasthani thali, or stuffed anything as long as it just got out of the tandoor. The younger lot can pub-hop and skip and then jump after it’s all over, which is what a little boy on a bankrupt high can do. The older ones go to insane levels of culinary patience by standing in queues (which do not work in a linear fashion like queues everywhere else) for dipping dosas in sambhar and with a little tomato ketchup on the side, why not! You cannot expect a dilliwalah to pass by a golgappa-filled stranger’s mouth without wanting to pop 10-ka-4 himself too. Where’s the party yaar? Does not matter, not always! But when there is a party, you can rest assured it will be both insane and special. They dance like their life depends on it, and they get married like it’s the end of the world the next day. Car-o-Bars inspiring Prabhu Deva in baraats and note-d showers. Lit up palm trees in wedding pandals as big as Ramlila maidans and a million calories to eat in return for the 1100 in the shagan lifafa. Without butter chicken no life. Without glitter no wife. Insanely special or especially insane? Hic! Who cares!      

Cultural Curry

If dilliwalahs are honest about something, it is in their choice of music. From Himesh Reshammiya in cars with rolled-down windows to the Jazz Festival or Bhakti Sangeet at Nehru Park, they have the capacity to consume varied forms of music. In pubs they will know their Hip-Hop from Techno. Outside, Kailash Kher is talent, Daler Mehendi is cute and Honey Singh is King. Why, even classical music finds a Kamani-full of audience. And then, apart from the ‘free-style’ dancing that can happen at the faintest roll of the drum, one child in every 20 homes is becoming a Shiamak Dawar or performing for Ashley Lobo. A similar number is learning Kathak or Bharatnatyam soon as they turn 6. And even Pummy aunty has joined belly dancing classes, for therapeutic reasons, no more! The dance and music scene in Delhi is what you can truly call a cultural curry – and it is usually served simmering hot - whether on stage or on the road!  

Brotherhood in Neighbourhood

Dilliwalas have a very unique relationship with their co-dilliwalahs. Good fences make good neighbours, especially if each family has more cars than the number of people who drive. While finding parking space is an art, keeping your parking space unoccupied by strangers’ wheels is pure genius. Have an extra cycle? Chain it to your designated square with hoops of steel while your beast is away. Got a few broken chairs? Pile them to keep your parking space exclusively yours. Also, remember that cleanliness is next to Godliness; so toss that garbage bag away from your living space and close your eyes to where it has landed, whether in the neighbour’s backyard or driveway, it is none of your business. However, make sure you remain on air-kiss terms through thick-and-thin for times when you need the elusive neighbour’s area for putting up that mata ki chowki ka tent. And do not forget to send in an extra packet of halwa for the generous leeway of property. Brotherhood in neighbourhood is nowhere as insanely special as in Delhi.  

Verbal expertise

Those from Delhi are masters of language. No, not the Merriam Webster Dictionary kinds but certainly of the I-can-use-what-words-I-please variety. For instance, expletives conjuring other’s kith and kin. Don’t get me wrong. Dilliwalahs do not always mean to express anger when they use them. You see such fluency in words from the other side of the dictionary that what seem like cuss words to you are actually just full stops, commas, full sentences, exclamation marks, fillers, greetings, middle names and often just shortened self-references. On a quieter note, have you ever noticed how they tell you the way when you ask for directions? With such confidence they will point their fingers (all five, this time!) to the next crossing that you can see and ask you to reach there, and then ask for further directions. They hate to say no to wayward tourists, even if they do not know the way. They also hate to say yes to moderation and go to such extent of hyperbole that if a mole hill is not called a mountain it means that the world is spinning from North to South. 

Phew! So you see, ‘insanely special’ is not a coincidental combination of words. And words can only but attempt to reproduce the special characteristics of dilliwalahs. The right combinations, peg measures and degrees only Delhi knows, as it lives life to the lees.

But then we tried, didn’t we?

[Written for the launch issue of the print magazine The Creative Project. All Rights Reserved.]

Monday, 19 August 2013

Sense of Self, or Shame?

‘Shame shame puppy shame, all the donkeys know your name’

Remember this jingle, sung in chorus back in our childhood when the elastic of our shorts gave way or the skirts turned traitor in the wind? It was an age when we were too young to be mindful of our bodies in times of gay abandon, but old enough to know that the 5-letter-word meant reason to blush when heard for our own selves. Why the sweet donkeys, of all animals, would bother knowing our names in such moments of slips-and-misses is a riddle we need not solve. What we can question, and answer, is the puzzling way in which the psychology of shame finds place in the minds of our young ones. 

At a public facility recently, I was busily pulling up my son’s shorts after a ‘what a relief’ moment when he, watching a female fellow-toddler undergoing similar fate in the hands of her mother, chose to announce without warning – ‘Oh oh. Girlie has no wee-weelie-weenkie.’ I confess - it was the only time in all these years that I was scared of a woman’s bag slapping my face. It was also the only time I thanked myself for choosing such a non-telling pseudonym for my son’s manhood. The latter kept the former away, as I quickly tucked in his tee and ducked out of the scene. 

And then I sat down to think about it all ... 

To read more, please click here.

Monday, 12 August 2013

The 3 Must-do Ms

It is amazing how, soon as you become a mother who happens to write for a living, the most frequent catalysts for ideas come in the form of what other mothers have said or done. Like a chain of sorts, albeit not the yummy food one, but of actions-reactions and more, that Newton’s IVth Law of Mom-tion spoke about once upon a time. While sharing my thoughts at a mahila meeting recently about how important I consider it to take a toddler for a fun day-out, I was met by a boulder straight from the black and white television era – 

Our mothers never went out when we were babies. But we grew up just fine!’ 

Now, who am I to contest that statement, especially in one of those situations where Lord of Reason should keep mum, hide inside my head and finally come out through my pen onto this paper in safer climes - to be shared with reason-able readers? So, here I am about to tell you of the 3 Must-do Ms that we as a family believe in, and you may like to too.

To read more, please click here.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

An Open Letter to Educated Indians

Dear all,

The trigger for this letter is IAS Durga Nagpal’s controversial suspension from duty. The trigger is also everything that follows the UP government’s move – be it what I see in the mainstream media over heated debates and campaigns for justice, or discussions in our drawing rooms over glasses of whiskey and gin. 

And I write this letter from first-hand experience, since my husband is a bureaucrat himself. 

Through him, I have come to know and know of countless officers in the Indian bureaucracy. Some are what you read about in the black book. But many others, although not material for prime time news, are stuff that inspiration is made of. You probably do not know too many of those diligent ones. It’s understandable. One, because the “good” ones are perhaps too few and far between to garner attention or even a little column dedicated to the historic changes that they have wrought about. And two, it takes being a part of the government machinery to really know it and understand it from the inside, rather than how popular journalism portrays it. 

I know. Things are not just tardy in government offices they can be downright unfair and even illegal. I see it more often than you do. And do you know why? Not just because something is rotten in the state of our Indian bureaucratic “system”, but also because something is amiss within us as citizens seeking services.

I have come to realize that in India we exist in various levels of ‘Power-ty’. Everyone has power, over someone or the other, which they greatly enjoy. And they want more. The daroga over the havaldar, the permanent driver over the ad hoc one, the principal over the teachers, teachers over the students and senior students over the junior ones. RWA Presidents over the colony residents, Chairmen over board members of companies and parents over their own children, why not. It is like a food chain of power. And at each level, we do not sit satisfied. We are ambitious. We want to be more powerful than we already are, more successful than everyone else in the city, and better than the neighbour, certainly. And in order to have that comfortable upward mobility, we seek and patronize those apparently sitting cushy in the proverbial corridors of power. How? 
It is not power that corrupts, it is need for power that corrupts. And it corrupts not just the powerful but also the powerless. Ever since my husband assumed office, his phone has not stopped ringing. Calls asking for pulls and pushes to do with school admissions, request letters for special discounts from marriage pandal organizers, calls-upon-calls for settling property disputes and even demands for arranging boxes of liquor for someone’s parties. The list is endless, and often borders on the bizarre. And no, it is not just so-and-so’s helpless neighbour or Mr. X’s poor sister-in-law calling for lazy files to move in the right direction. It is even those friends and family members who sit lambasting the government and it’s functioning as a fashionable topic over parties or on Twitter's hallowed pages in better weather, but waste no time in picking up that phone when it comes to a little favour, even if of the extra-legal kind.

When a young officer assumes charge, two things can happen. One, he will go with the flow, become a spoke in the wheel, especially if that is why he wanted to leave all other lucrative career options behind and get a powerful post to enjoy in his sarkari naukri. Or two, he will reject becoming a part of what he does not agree with and try to bring to the system his mind, heart, sweat, career and ideas, all towards contributing to his/her sense of duty, responsibility towards a post and position and with a hope for a better tomorrow. The latter are so scarce, we can barely see them, as I mentioned above. 

But then I ask you - do we want to see them? 

What if one of the shareef ones cancels the license of our cement mill? Or Mr. Clean refuses your packet and asks you to pay your duty in its entirety for your imported car? Today, we shout slogans to reverse Durga’s suspension. Tomorrow, we will be visiting the service tax officer with a box of laddoos, and more, so that the interior designer under his jurisdiction waives off a few lakhs for designing our new condo, or finds you a house maid from a reputed agency. And the day after, we will again be spewing venom against the same system that we have helped prop up on our favour-seeking attitudes – not just in helpless situations, please note, but otherwise too. 

Ask yourself, honestly. What scares you more? A corrupt babu you know you will be able to work your way around for whatever you want, or a clean civil servant who will not sign on the dotted line and not pick up that phone to get your daughter admitted to her engineering college? 

When you have answered that, ask yourself now. Are you angry over the unfair suspension of dear Durga and what she stood for, or are you protesting because you have got another reason to protest for the sake of protesting against the favourite goat – the government? Did you bother to find out and be thankful to the many Durgas who are working in your cities right this minute to keep your roads free from lawlessness, or your trains running smoothly, your hospitals ticking or your terrorism-infested districts safe? As a people demanding services and your rights, what do you do to incentivize those who you know as honest, hard-working and fair, so that they continue as exactly that and not fall to the many temptations around? But then, I guess we do not even prefer to have that breed around any more. Because we too are part of a certain nexus, which has no room or use for those goodly kinds. 

I do not condone or deny the rot. God knows we get to see it every day. But as the wife of a bureaucrat husband, I do realize how much easier it is to generalize, to opine, to blame, to other, and then even to protest. And how very difficult to realize the parts that we, the so-called educated people, play in the perpetuation of wrong. The system will not change, because we do not want it to change. We are all very hungry. The corridors of power are present in every home, and we want to keep them gleaming with comfort and we want to keep ourselves, our rashly driving sons, our daughters caught in rave parties and our factories evading duty as safe as bribery can buy. 

We, as a people, are bureaucratic existing at various levels of ‘power-ty’. We create mai baaps because we ourselves dream of being a bigger one. And while we do that, the real aam junta which cannot read this post sits and suffers, hoping for change.

And ‘Change’? Just a 6-letter-word we paint on our posters but are simply not interested in working towards in our daily life. I wish some sign campaign would work towards changing that attitude too. Perhaps that day, my husband's phone will stop ringing so much!  

Sakshi Nanda.

[First on CNN-IBN ]

Monday, 5 August 2013

Breast Feeding

More than 120 countries are celebrating World Breastfeeding Week, which started on the 1st and will end on the 7th of August. An annual event, the week sees different kinds of events, get-togethers and fun activities planned for nursing mothers across the globe. Talks are held to emphasize the importance of breast-feeding your babies, and the innumerable benefits that breast milk is known to carry our way from nature’s own kitty. As festively liberating as the week may be, there is need to examine how breast feeding is perceived and received in different spaces – both public as well as private. 

All that breast-feeding meant to my yet-to-be-mommy state was hunting for comfortable feeding bras and pads, and thinking that going out would be no problem. It would mean keeping a stole handy and finding a comfortable chair to sit on once he began his hungry howls. If only it was that uncomplicated. After I actually became a nursing mother, I realized the complexity residing in the act of putting your baby to your breast, not just in public places but at home too. And how my resolve ‘I will feed my son whenever he wants to be fed, simple!’ was not simple, and rang hollow so many times.

To read more, please click here.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Small Town Mentality

In the small town

I come from a small town which grew to become a small city soon as it was declared the capital of a new-born hill State. More concrete, better roads, mushrooming universities, traffic lights, McDonalds and Pizza Hut, and even a little pub came rushing in to take their place. Month-after-month, our small town morphed into something beyond recognition and imagination. What was once called a retired hamlet downing shutters by 8 pm and going to sleep by 10 was now buzzing with ice-cream eating pan-enjoying janta even in the middle of the night. The old town became a young city – even as the elders blinked their age-old eyes awake and the young rejoiced at more-things-to-do whenever they came home on a break. The town grew, indeed!

Dictionary explains ‘Mentality’ as a habitual or characteristic mental attitude that determines how you will interpret and respond to situations - which engineers your adaptability to newness and your actions and reactions to all things foreign. As I saw Dehradun become unrecognizable, I realized how the mentality of the residents moulded itself to something so different too. More people were eating out and partying as gourmet restaurants opened their doors to them. A lot more girls and boys were hanging out together and a lot less parents frowning at that, thanks to comfortable and safe coffee shops dotting the city. With the latest designer brands came fashionable transformations of the young and old alike. In short – what I saw was a mentality gradually opening up its arms to outside forces (even if you want to call them forces of consumerism) and warming up to the changes of lifestyle and thinking that winds from bigger cities brought with them. Today, after more than a decade of becoming a capital – Dehradun is no longer just resting on rocking chairs in green verandahs, sipping tea and having pakoras. It is also learning to do and getting to accept things and ideas which form an integral part of growing with the times. Fear of unknown frontiers outside the city limits have been cast away, and a spirit of enterprise has come seeping in along with students and businesses from all over the country. And this small town’s mentality? As flexible and as forward-looking as it has always been. The town not just grew, it grew up too. 

In the big city 

Now, take the 7-hours-long journey and come to New Delhi – a city that is not just big, but a metro since forever. Political capital, land of opportunity, central university, and what-not. It never sleeps, and then wakes up late on weekends. Its fast and maddening, yet fulfilling too. There is so much to do and enjoy, and equally more to look forward to another day. It is a grown-up city teeming with energy and life, all kinds. It seems many developed years ahead of Dehra Dun and its times. But what about its mind? 

In the last 13 years, I have heard a universalised definition of ‘Small town mentality’ far too many times from the cosmopolitan. Of course, directed at my kind who were born in tiny nursing homes in tinier towns. And every time I hear these 3 words, the usage bothers me. The term is used to explain everything that riddles the city - from lawlessness and indiscipline to promiscuity and immorality, from gossiping and communalism, to even excessive hospitality. Am I imagining the condescending tone in the voice which pronounces certain people’s mentality as small town, which hurts me? Am I reading too much when I see it as disrespectful towards my home town and all the people living there? Maybe underlying this not-so-veiled derisive tag is an idea of one-up-man-ship over someone who grew up in smaller places by those belonging to bigger ones? Strange, this labelling, which in the best of times seems to be coming from an incipient prejudice and in the worst with the intention of "othering" what is everyone's evil.   

One never talks about a ‘big city mentality’. Why is that? Are not residents of such cities equally responding to situations and interpreting them with characteristic traits acquired? Or is it because small town-ers coming into big cities have far more to take in and assimilate than those who need not leave their homes in big cities for greener pastures elsewhere? Maybe they are too many too busy to even know their neighbours, so shoe-boxing them under a certain umbrella of mentality is near impossible. Where as in a small town, we can easily fit everyone into one parade ground, ignoring all ideas of uniqueness and individualism which actually exist in equal quantities, everywhere.

In my mind

My experience of ‘small town mentality’? Openness to accept change with newer influences, albeit carefully and sure-footedly. Being interested in how much milk your neighbour procures, yet knowing that does not make him any different from you. Holding on to your children, their studies, your gardens and your pets with hoops of steel, but going all out to support the stranger on the road when he needs help for his own. Going to the market ready to bump into 10 people you know, yet knowing how to show a pleasant surprise and a happy smile, all 10 times. Going to the plush mall to enjoy the festivities while yet not forgetting your family jeweller, doctor, kirana shop, tailor because good will and loyalty took longer to build than that mall. That is called small town mentality, and rightly so, since most big cities leave you hungering for most of these.
I have no real answers which explain the ridiculous and ridiculing usage of ‘small town mentality’ that I have witnessed over the years. If I did, this post would have had less question marks than it does. I can only explain this post as one stemming from deep loyalty for my fellow small town-ers, a loyalty that is an intrinsic part of this 'small town mentality' we speak of. I do make a mental note that perhaps there is indeed a ‘big city mentality’ too, which exposes itself most when it tries to explain any kind of different-from-its-own behaviour as ‘small town mentality’. And it does neither party any good.

So, in the spirit of a true-blue small town-er who grew up living with a community as a whole and feeling of oneness even with strangers on the road, I will erase that note instantly from my mind. Shadow lines of difference need never see the light of the day!   

While my home-town remains the dearest dot on the map to me, I do thank this big city that I call home today - for having taught me not just how to live but also how to survive.

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