The streets here, full of everything. Vehicles, people, street vendors, stray animals and not to forget buildings. A town which, once upon a time was a paradise for those retired and for education being called as “oxford of the east”. Pleasing temperature, abundant greenery, somewhat relaxed pace of life, kind of similar to the hills (yesteryears). Agreed it was and still is a major (second biggest) town of the state. I distinctly remember, mid 80’s when I first visited the town along with my parents since my younger sister was pursuing her graduation. The town was fairly large, I say this because I came from a place where if you stand, say top of the band stand, and turned around 360, you could view the whole town, and everybody knew everybody. There was a stark difference here.
To begin with buildings and traffic, every side the head turned, buildings, trees and grass dotted with vehicles and multicolored rooftop, all glimmering under the bright warm sun. In Pune the buildings glaring, under hot striking sun, with just a slight respite only around (4 o’clock) late afternoon, a light shower not any more.
Nainital, in those days, was fairly a small town would rather call it a hamlet, almost everybody knew everybody in one way or another. A contrast here, apart from immediate neighbours, few peers and associates, whom you worked with or for you were almost alone. Moving, growing and falling. The flip side in the hills we moved, grew there was always someone beside to move along or lend a helping hand, push you further ahead. When you do fall or slip there, always an outstretched hand, a shoulder to lean on, strong ancillary support system and perhaps still is in place. You were never alone in celebration or sorrow. Here is the complete opposite. You pop a champagne alone and even wipe your tear alone. You are left to grow or fall all alone.
When you talk of living standards or amenities. There is a stark difference. The living standard is higher materialistically. Since there is more one can earn. Better quality of houses and features, better and more options to shop, better roads, and things. But on the other side if I talk of values, ethics or even lifestyle, the hills are far ahead and beat them hands down. Another interesting aspect is education. Here in the city there are big schools that are a brand in itself with a plethora of facilities, amenities. The schools in the hills do not have these fancy cushioned chairs, desks, it’s the same old wooden chairs, desks, big fields to play, simple straight lockers, iron cots (borders). Academic curriculum remains more or less the same across the nation. In my opinion its intention and intensity. This is where the difference lies. I feel there is a far greater intensity in the hills school. Be it academics, games, discipline, punctuality of many things. I feel a strong wanting of them in schools here. Remember the old saying “ spare the rod, spoil the child” a big no-no for today in schools, but in my understanding it’s still prevalent in the hills. There was a thing called “best of 5” anyone remember. The guardians, parents pull up their sleeves all up in arms if you dare even try capital punishment, you could even land up behind bars. I do accept that brutal or barbaric attitude is a big no. To get desired results, there is reward and punishment moving in tandem. Countering and complimenting. We have two hands both work in tandem and at times in unison too, the same applies.
Talking of life, lifestyle, here I see a rush, and a clamour in almost everything. Be it getting ready or going to school, office, shopping there seems to be a rush for everything. Even driving in every context to office, to shop or even a social function, always rush to be ahead as if a pot of gold is kept at the other end. Just crossing the road, is in fact pain in the wrong place!. I remember when I came here in the mid 80’s afternoon, had a deserted look, almost every shop closed, it was siesta time, even today many shopkeepers follow this, the number has gone down dramatically. The easy, relaxed pace of life, just withered away. The city has grown many folds, in every respect. The pace of the city fast not yet rapid, will not stay the same way constantly changing in every respect. The environment, the temperature of the city never went beyond say 32* even in peak summer months. I have been told by old timers in the city, people did not install ceiling fans in houses, since the weather was cool and comfortable. Even in the hills we generally do not have ceiling fans , the weather here did not permit. It’s always cool and cold, hovering between the two. On the contrary, here now it is really difficult, in the summer months from end of March till July. The want slowly turns into need. I feel with each year the quotient of want gets depleted, need increases. “Times they are a changing’” reminds me of Bob Dylan’s song. I do understand that with passage of time things change, we move forward, ahead this is evolution. From caves to skyscrapers, from stones to nuclear weapons, from walking to flying. We have come a long long way.
A thought, a vision, a desire, a want keeps coming back almost every day “Country road take me home“ a song by John Denver.
How and even how much I miss home, I and only I know, feel, and understand.
When will I go home?
Article by Paresh Chanchani
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