Lonely Planet

The Scottish Goverment have an annual competetion (and apperently there is huge demand) to invite people to live in the remote bleak and freezing island called Fair Isle. if you are ‘lucky’, you get to spend the rest of your life with a total population of 76 inhabitants, more or less cut off from civilization. The main reason that one American family has given is “that here you can walk into any neighbour’s house without having arrange it in advance”. Isn’t that a stunning statement on the lonliness of the Western societies ?

In India, the whole idea of a ‘mohalla’ was that neighbours could walk in and out of each other’s houses all the time. Any time. I still remeber whistling or shouting outside my friends houses to call them out, and being grabbed by their mothers to come and eat. My friends were walking in and out of each other’s houses every day. I would wake up each morning to the wafting tones of the local gossip that was going on between my mother and her friends.
As my daughter was born in London noticed this much more. The arranging of a ‘sleep over’ was a ritual. ‘Play dates’ had to be arranged between mothers a week in advance. That was one of the prime reason to move back to India.
I now can barely catch my 6 year old daughter for even a hug ! She is either in her friend’s houses, or my house is filled with the laughter fo her friends.
I warn most of my Western friends that are travelling to India ” Remember that the idea of Privacy in India is not the same as you are used to”
There are many many things that are wrong with my country. But I do miss the idea of the ‘Mohalla’. The idea of the ‘Mehfil’ in the evnings. The words “Aaj Sham ko kya ho raha hai yar ?” I do miss those words in London.
Maybe that is why there are so many cell phones in India. We just love to chat with each other all the time.

13 thoughts on “Lonely Planet

  1. So true.. especially with children.. I have noticed though that in the past
    many years with the increase in Indian population out here in the US, the
    ratio of indian kids vs the other immigrants has vastly improved.
    Its no longer a big deal for children to take roti-sabzi for lunch. Diwali is taught as a part of the same group as Hannukah, Kwanza and Christmas since they are considered fall/winter festivals.
    And, since we have a tendency to live in certain diverse neighborhoods – its no longer a rare sight to see Aunt and uncles in saris and kurta’s and the desi kids playing baseball/soccer/volleyball (instead of cricket.. a welcome sight:-)
    As far as playdates, sleepovers are concerned – it depends on the location. Within the same neighborhood , kids just walk into others houses or yell out
    Yet, the old world charm of India – sights, fragrance, sounds and most of all the kite flying is sorely missed.. more so today!

  2. Shekhar, what are your thoughts on the movie GURU. Along with Mani & Ramu you coproduced Dil Se. Are you guys still in touch at all?

  3. L.A was like that within living memory, at least as far as leaving your car door unlocked and so on..
    TV plays a large part in dissolving these relationships between our immediate neighbours in communities – it’s telling that we are more interested in the manufactured “relationships” of 11 people in a room, on TV, as in Big Brother – as if we need to be reminded of the dynamics of human interaction..& only TV can do it.

  4. Open neighbourhoods are quite a cocoon of comfort. As also to be in a room all by oneself sometimes. Developed countries don’t have the former and having a room of your own is a luxury most middle-class in India don’t have.
    As a teenager I wish I had a room to myself with internet!
    What it was to be a child, I remember lingocha, marbles, kite-flying, dagad-mati, saakhli! Ah we grew up too old too soon.

  5. LOL.
    Yeah, there are a lot of good things about this country too. After all, it’s our home.
    Btw, people all over the world must be feeling the same way about their countries, because those countries are their homes.

  6. everyone has a phase life in their life when they prefer to be stay alone or away, to avoid any pre-judgement neighbourhoods. with time, age, comes maturity, we become more dependent on society and our priorities changes.
    but yap, in general we like to talk… (sometimes too much))

  7. So true so true! we are a close knit ppl..we need the comfort of human company..but in Metros and with changing lifestyles, I hope we dont give up our closeness & our children dont grow up in loneliness of the four walls..
    Yes we are a chattering nation! see hw long speeches our politicans give and hw on every nook & corner in any mofussil place ppl discuss the state of affairs with much zeal & gutso..
    here’s cheers to the speaking nation!

  8. Received the following in my mailbox tonight. Thought I should share it with all Indians:
    Did you know that there is a system in our constitution, as per the 1969 act, in section “49-O” that a person can go to the polling booth, confirm his identity, get his finger marked and
    convey the presiding election officer that he doesn’t want to vote anyone !!!!
    Yes, such a feature is available, but obviously these seemingly notorious leaders have never disclosed it. This is called “49-O”.
    Why should you go and say “I VOTE NOBODY”… because, in a ward, if a candidate wins, say by 123 votes, and that particular ward has received “49-O” votes more than 123, then
    that polling will be cancelled and will have re-polled. Not only that, but the candidature of the contestants will be removed and they cannot contest the re-polling, since people had already expressed their decision on them.
    This would bring fear into parties and hence they will have to look for genuine candidates for their parties for election. This would change
    the way, of our whole political system… it is seemingly surprising why the media and election commission has not revealed such a feature to the public…. please spread this news to as many as
    you know… Seems to be a wonderful weapon against corrupt parties in India… show your power, expressing your desire not to vote
    anybody, is even more powerful than voting… so don’t miss your chance. So either vote, or vote not to vote (vote 49-O) and pass this info on…

  9. Navin, the only amendment to our constitution I can find in 1969 is the 22nd amendment, and it does not go as long as article 49 ! is there someother information you can give to before I blog your information ? For if true, it is explosive, Shekhar

  10. Your blog is simply reminiscent of my lovely childhood days. I remember, I would specifically have my neighbour’s haath ka Khichdi or watch certain selected TV serials just at their place. There were no intercoms to inquire about anybody’s well being and where your friend would just be a stone’s throw distance away. Life was least luxurious but most pleasurable.
    I think, almost every Indian has eternally captured that essence in his heart that a mere reminiscene of those days would bring a genuine smile on his face.
    Nice blog Shekhar… 🙂

  11. Shekhar
    You do say “Aaj Sham ko Kya ho raha hai” in London too !! or better ” Kadi ta phone uda lita karo” or Kithe!!

  12. as a nerdy guy who just wants to watch american idol and nfl games on tv, i don’t miss the annoying neighbors my parents in india had 🙂
    i love that i don’t have to socialize with my neighbors now 🙂

  13. This is in response to Navin’s posting on Section 49.-O. I could find a “Document”, which is “ELECTION COMMISSION OF INDIA HANDBOOK FOR
    This document does mentions “Voters” right to not Vote and “Booth Officer” has to record same.

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