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.
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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?