Friday, November 07, 2008

Small Town

I've tried living in big cities both in India and America but have to admit despite all protestations to the contrary, I am at heart a small town person. As much as I crave for a more diverse and richer life experience, despite everything I long for and cannot have it is my natural element.

Each year Diwali would be exactly like it was the previous year in the the town that I grew up in. The usual suspects would have celebrations in their homes, the same set of people would invite and be invited, same or similar local talent would perform at the concerts and so on. If you gone through it once, you knew exactly what to expect. I would be bored to tears having to go through the 'Diwali drill' when it was that time of year and yet it was an intensely personal experience.

In my town, it took a while to earn the local tag - a few years just did not cut it. You had to be a lifer. But when you crossed a certain threshold of time and did become local, it was home forever. I have felt lost in big cities everywhere. There is more to do, more variety than I can keep up with ; each festival or holiday is a little different each year. You take a lot longer to get bored but it takes even longer to begin to belong. Your friends are as numerous as they are transient - so you make and lose acquaintances with equal rapidity.

The town I live in now has little by way of artistic and cultural diversity but the few tokens that do exist show up everywhere with little variation to their standard gig. So when you see the one drummer from Djibouti that the town boasts of, you also know his tried and tested routine. And so it is with the solitary storyteller from Sumatra or the one Bharat Natyam dancer folks know about. As boring as it can get to be, there is something oddly comforting about the predictable pattern that small town life is all about. It takes more effort than I am able to muster these days to yank myself out of this comfort zone to head somewhere where things are not always the same.

No comments: