Skip to main content

Small town, big heart

Pearl Jam's haunting ballad Gone is about someone seeking to escape the rigors and limits of small town life and chart a new course. While performing the song on VH1 Storytellers, Eddie Vedder quotes another song inspired by small towns, the late Lou Reed's Small Town in which he sings 'the only good thing about a small town is you know you want to get out.' 

Outside the cocoon of 24x7 wi-fi and artificially cooled air, is a world. It may lack many of the things that cities spoil us for choice with and numb our senses to, but it is definitely more real than the Truman Show lives of sameness that we lead.

There are two ways to explore a small town. One is to hire an AC cab, zip through landscapes and people, finish whatever you went for and return.

The other is to ditch the comforts and travel in their buses, walk on their roads, drink chai in their chai kadas and listen to their stories, hopes and dreams.

We traveled to a place called Gandikotta in Andhra Pradesh that is fondly christened the Grand Canyon of India. En route, while waiting for a bus, I asked a shopkeeper for directions. He then took my palm and predicted my future, which according to him, was as bright as the sun that was mercilessly showering us with its rays. He didn't extend a hand to ask for money, just sent us with his best wishes.

A little later, we alighted from the bus and refreshed ourselves with a couple of cool drinks at a stall. A couple of days later, we found ourselves at the same stall, tired and weary and a day spent  and the shopkeeper recognised us. Seeing us lugging our bags and the fatigue that was etched on our faces like a permanent tattoo, he offered us a seat and rushed out to get us an auto. Someone we probably would never see again in our lives went out of his way to see that we got a ride to our hotel.

In a small town, there is no wi-fi but the conversations are enriching. The flavours are local people aren't sizing you up as much as they are curious to know about you. There is one theatre, one mall, one station. For all of our progress, we have come to the sad realisation that more isn't the panacea. The homes haven't gotten a coat of paint in what seems like centuries but they radiate a warmth that cannot be described through tepid real estate advertising. The fields are lush and the dusk sometimes descends with a scary suddenness. A small town goes to bed early and rises early,and life and vitality are not frittered in the numerous charades that urban living throws at us in the guise of entertainment.

Life in a small town may seem it moves at a snail's pace and makes its inhabitants yearn to be a part of the rat race to nowhere.

Eventually, the big city lights will lead us all back into the arms of a small town.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When an Iyer met an Iyengar

If you see my parents, they look like the quintessential arranged marriage couple. After nearly 35 years together, they still take care not to touch each other while posing for a photograph and my mother’s smile dangles precariously between a smile and a grimace. But this image discolours the truth a tad.
Some 40 years back, they met at work, fell in love and got married. The talking point of the union being mom’s status as an iyengar and dad’s as an iyer. Simply put, the iyers and the iyengars are two castes of the Brahmin community, each, when given the chance, profess superiority to each other on all counts. If you listen closely, an Iyengar talking about an Iyer will say ‘Iyer a?’ in a condescending tone. And vice versa.
Mom tells me that when she told her dad about the marriage, he vowed to stand by her at any cost. Dad never told me what happened, but allow me to hazard a guess. His mother (my grandmother), threatened to go on a fast unto death. My dad threatened to go on a parall…

Unfair and unlovely

If time is money, the demonetization drive has ensured that many Indians are already very rich because they have suddenly been taught the virtue of patience.
A crossing near my house got to be very busy and a new signal was installed to help regulate the flow. Every single day, I see people break the signal from all sides without paying heed to their safety or anyone else’s. The people who break the signals glare at you for following the rules. You feel guilty for being patient.
The signal is red and people behind you are honking as if there was a reward for it. People shout the choicest of epithets at you for not moving and standing your ground. Either that or I need to go for an eye check up and see if I am colour blind. In another part of the world, orange maybe the new black but as far as I know, red is not the new green.
Stand in a queue at the railway station, in the petrol bunk, airport check-in counter ,or to pay a bill, and there will always be that one asshole who tries to…

Rasam rice

On some days, Bangalore weather becomes nostalgic. And for some time, everyone is permitted to live in the past. On one such June day, the sun wistfully playing hide and seek and the clouds emitting just enough raindrops for an instagram photo, the weather flirting with winter, the craving for rasam becomes telling.
Rasam. Rasam rice. Whichever, doesn’t matter.
First, use your fingers to make space in the middle of a heap of rice. Don’t protest when the dollop of ghee gleefully sinks into the rice. The rasam should scald, otherwise the ride isn’t worth it. The flesh on your fingers crawl when you dip them into the rasam, but trust me, keep with it. No good thing has been known to ever come easy. The impatient wait for a few seconds and an insignificant morsel is savoured. Gooseflesh ensues.
Slowly but steadily, bigger portions are savoured. to enhance the experience and attain nirvana, combine it with crisp papad and sandige.  Personal favourites include molagu rasam, thakkali rasam, jee…