It’s not often that I travel beyond big cities in the country. So when work took me to
Of course, I had heard of
My drive from
A visit to the market place brought the whole small town feel right to the forefront. Coming on the heels of a film production, where we spent lakhs to re-create this bazaar feel in a set in Mumbai, this was ironic. The colours of the sarees hanging in the shops, the cacophony of sounds and smells, the women sitting on the cycle rickshaws, the absolute chaos of traffic where there was no way a car could get through those streets – it was the age old marketplace. Nothing might have changed in a century. The surma seller selling nothing else but kohl for the eyes was a revelation. We later learned, of course, that
Yet there was evident change. ICICI, HDFC and SBI all had their ATMs here. We spoke to some young lower middle class girls (as part of ‘research’) and they were all dreaming big. There was no doubt in their minds that they were going to become a somebody in their lives.
Bollywood and TV soaps ruled, of course. Hearts beat for Shahrukh, Salman and Hrithik, just as they beat for them in the big cities. Yet, going out to the cinemas was not all that common. The local theatre was showing the latest Hindi and Bhojpuri cinemas, but the girls were not watching their heroes there. They were watching them on VCDs at home – piracy rules! Kyunki was still going strong, but there were a rash of other replacements including the latest reality show – Big Boss. And advertisements were a window too to the world beyond.
Small town males though seem to have undergone little change. At a research group, the only males around were the guys from the local video recording unit. It was obvious that they had little clue on how to make a DVD player work with the TV. So when the female local recruiter suggested that they try plugging the cable into a different socket, the guy reacted so violently, it came as a minor shock. His expertise was being challenged by a woman and it was clear he didn’t like it one bit. But when it became obvious that the woman was right, the bully backed down and went away sulking. I guess the world around is changing too rapidly for a large section of
When we took the road back to