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.