Saturday, 23 March 2013

The joy of growing up in a small town

I was born in a small town called Nagpur in Maharashtra, India. Nearly 40 years back Nagpur was a small town as compared to its glamorous cousins Pune or Bombay. It still retains its small town charm in the lanes and by lanes that I frequented as a child and then as a grown woman. There is a certain kind of joy growing up in a small town, which is incomparable when you grow up in a big city. The hustle and bustle of a big city makes it impossible for a person to enjoy the relaxed life or even notice the changing seasons.

While growing up, most of the people I knew lived in Bungalows with a garden around the house. There were buildings but there were very few of these. Our house was surrounded by Papaya, Guava and Custard Apple trees. We also had a Lemon tree along with a variety of flowering plants such as Rose, Mogra, Hibiscus etc. For any Puja in the house, all we had to do was grab a basket and pluck the flowers and fruits. One of our neighbours had a Mango tree and all the kids would gather during the Summer months and throw rocks to break the raw mangoes from the tree. There was a certain thrill in that and any time someone got lucky, the raw Mango was cut in equal pieces and devoured along with some salt and red chilli powder.

Since everybody knew each other in the neighbourhood, it was a safe place to be. Our parents never had to worry or keep a tab of where we were or what we were up to. If we did something naughty, we knew that our parents would hear of it sooner or later. There was a certain kinship with the people I grew up with. We could go to anyone's house and spend an entire afternoon playing carom, Ludo, cards or chat without thinking twice. As a child, I think my parents hardly knew where I was, during my summer holidays. Such was the love and tolerance of our neighbours. Every festival was celebrated together. We had communal Ganesh Puja and Holi Puja in our neighbourhood. We exchanged sweets during Dushhera and Diwali and flew kites during Sankrant. 


Photo Courtesy : Google
I miss the familiarity of shopping at places I have been visiting since childhood. The moment I step in Nagpur, I feel like I have slipped back into worn but comfortable shoes and now can easily walk without worrying about a blister. When it comes to shopping, I don't like the cold and impersonal shopping experience we have when we shop in malls and big stores. In Nagpur, I know many of the shop owners as I have been visiting their shops with my father  and grandfather since when I was a itty bitty child. The warmth of their welcome and the personal attention is what makes shopping so much fun. I remember that as a child, many a times, I did not have sufficient cash to buy something and the shop owner would  not hesitate to hand over that item and I could pay them later. Even now, when I go home, many of them ask about my well being, where I stay now and how long is my visit. This makes me happy as I feel I am still connected with people in my home town.

Now, things have definitely changed in Nagpur and a few shopping malls have sprung up. Life has become faster and people now talk of stress and travelling far to reach their work place and there are more multi storied buildings than bungalows.

Anyone who has lived in a small town knows what I am saying and is probably missing it right now.

 Did you live in a small town? Do you come from a small town? Are you living in a small town? What has been your experience? 

26 comments:

Susan Deborah said...

Unfortunately or fortunately, I think I'm a city cat. I was only born in a small town and after ten months of being born, I was taken to Bombay and after that it was only cities.I did live in a town called Thiruvarur for two years before Goa but that place sucked my zest and vitality Presently, Goa seems to be a small town in comparison to the cities that I have lived. Small towns are definitely charming and the relationship between people seem to be quite familiar and relaxed but inspite of all that I like the pace of the city - the convenience of everything under one roof and the modes of transport.


All said and done, I loved the way you grew up and enjoyed your formative years.


Joy always,
Susan

Shilpa Garg said...

Another interesting post, Vinita! I was born and brought up in Kota and we lived in a colony and it was the same childhood as yours. After marriage, moved to Mumbai and stayed there for long 8 yrs and then have traveled to Lucknow, Jammu, Jaipur, Jodhpur... and according to us, small towns are the best. People are warm, you get to spend quality time with family and friends, commuting time is maximum 15-20 minutes... and since the towns are progressing, you have almost everything that is there in a metro! Any day, small towns gets my vote!

umashankar pandey said...

LP, I can relate to you reminiscing at several levels. The fruit bearing trees, the fragrant plants, childhood games, the well known neighbours and shopkeepers, and then the pain of all that being replaced by glass and concrete and strangers. You just pushed my heart into a time travel!

Red Handed said...

This was so nostlagic. I was raised in a small city called Bhopal. Now I c malls springing up but it lacks the charm of the Gali markets. We also had trees and garden around our old house with migra,papaya,custard apple, anar and the likes growing. Now I stay in the concrete jungle where I dnt even knw my neighbours.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Ahh yes Mumbai people somehow have that in their blood. They get restless when they are in a small place. Most of them don't know what to do with excess time on hand, which they usually spend in travelling in Mumbai.


I love the small town feel but don't deny that I too get restless sometimes when there is not much to do.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks Shilpa :) I agree people are not suspicious and you actually get time to spend with your loved ones. Yes now even small cities have all the amenities of a big town so I do crave to go back home to the familiar places.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I am glad I did :) It is not bad to reminisce. It warms up your heart. There is simplicity and friendliness that I miss in the big cities.

Lazy Pineapple said...

@ Redhanded Yeah that is exactly how I feel..the concrete jungle is so impersonal. We hardly know our neighbours or even socialise with them.

Bhakti Sharma said...

I was blessed to be born in an even smaller town Lonavla. Though it is commercialized now, there is a sense of belonging because you have an identity there. I like it when I walk on the streets there and most people recognize me even though its been years I left the place.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Ohhh I love Lonavala. Yes it is very commercialized now. I know, that makes you feel so good when people recognise you. Good to see you here Bhakti :)

bchowla said...

There are and will no longer be any small towns..Every inch of land is being commercialised.But,there are advantages of being in small towns.
Really speaking,what is importnat is the company one has,friend,relatives.

C. Suresh said...

I do I do! Only mine was a company town - Neyveli - so the people you knew are retired and gone. But, thankfully, a lot of my school friends work there as does my brother and I get at least a dose of that life once a year.

Anirban Mitra said...

Yeah, you touched on a favourite topic of mine! I come from a small steel township of Bengal, Durgapur. The feelings are exactly the same here. The familiarity of the small town , the fun of being lazy , the entire town feeling like an extended family and of course, the sense of ownership are all the same.

And of course, the new developments have taken away a lot of these feel good factors but it still feels nice and warm when I happen to go back there.

What is interesting is that the feelings are same right across the breadth of the country:)

Akanksha Dureja said...

What a lovely post! It brought back so many memories of my schoolchild day too! :)

Corinne Rodrigues said...

It's difficult for people who have grown up in metros don't get how we long for the small town community we are so used to :)

themoonstone.wordpress.com said...

Yes yes yes ! I too was brought up in a small town..in fact smaller than Nagpur :) A place called Bhilai in M.P and there are so many memories of bungalows, gardens, streets, markets you name it.. even power cuts :) when I used to enjoy sitting in the garden watching the stars.. I dont know whether to be sad or happy that now we have generators and inverters !

amit sharma said...

I was born and brought up in Delhi but I always loved the visits to my nani's place which was in a small town. The life was laid-back and there was so much time to spend with myself. It is a different life.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Small towns give you the time for a laid back life. Plus the sense of community is stronger.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I know Bhillai. Yes small town life has its wonderful times. I guess with the changing times, even small towns have to change.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I agree Corinne, the laidback life, the familiarity with roads and places. That adds up to make some wonderful memories which people who grow up large towns miss.

Lazy Pineapple said...

I am glad you enjoyed the post Akanksha :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

Yeah that is quite interesting to know that people who have grown up in a small town anywhere feel the same. I miss that laidback life...

Lazy Pineapple said...

That is good to know Suresh. Nothing life living the laidback life :)

Lazy Pineapple said...

What you say is true Chowlaji. I feel that us small towners were always comfortable about knowing our neighbours and sharing our lives with them. This is not there in big cities.

Arnab Roy said...

Visited your blog for the first time.. I grew up in a small town as well called kharagpur in West bengal which apart from its IIT has always been slow and time invariant. I dont even remember my weekends there because i used to stay at home only, unlike today when we can't even think abt going out somewhere in a group for dinner or a movie. I spent my whole school life there before we shifted to Kolkata. But the after effect of growing up in a lazy town has stayed with me and will for ever.

Talking abt laid back life that we get used to in a town, i am facing a strange dilemma of whether staying at my flat here in pune alone for the next 3 holidays and do nothing, or go to mumbai (i stayed for 2 yrs there) and drown myself in the crowd and rush.Still undecided.. :)

lavina agarwal said...

Hi lp..I have been here earlier o guess...non the less loved your post. I am from nagpur too...and we have a bunglow which had lovely plants all around. .The summers went in playing ludo and chess with siblings. .it was a fun time.

We had the tv long before it was in every household ...so we had lot of friends watching the Saturday evening movie on dd!

Love to recollect the memories. ..great post..

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