I want India to become a developed country. I want all Indians (including the massive rural population) to enjoy what people in “developed” countries enjoy – higher standards of living.

Better public facilities, a good education, places to relax, excellent and affordable healthcare, high speed internet. Places to play sports and get entertained.

Comfortable jobs, lots of things to buy and holidays.

You know, a happening life.

I am perhaps a country mouse who lives in a small, dusty, noisy town. For a city mouse, the life here wouldn’t be “happening”. There are no night clubs to lose myself in. Not a lot of places to “eat out”. Not a lot of shops to buy branded stuff. If and when Hapur becomes a developed city, there will be all these things. But will I be able to really enjoy life?

What Hapur is

The peace

It is peaceful here during the night. I live close to the railway station so the trains keep coming and going. There are few cars and bikes on the road so honking is minimal. There is no local train or metro because it’s a small town. You can go from end to the other in 5 minutes. You are insulated from the world in away, there is lesser competition, lesser stress and lesser pollution. There is definitely more peace I feel, than say in Mumbai or Delhi.

The food

Because there are no places to eat out, people have no choice but to eat at home all the time. How boring. Right?

Here are some interesting articles which talk about home cooked meals (the blue words are links, click them to read):

  1. An interesting article about a Cambridge study published on a very popular American blog about how home cooked meals improve longevity.
  2. Another post published on another popular American blog.
  3. A blog post on Time Magazine’s website (a popular American website) about how home cooked food is more economical.
  4. A blog post on Livestrong’s website on how home cooked food helps in weight loss.

Obesity, poverty, poor health, shorter lifespans – these are major problems throughout the world. One of the benefits of living in a small town is that by default, you have to eat ghar ka khana! While more and more Americans prefer to eat home cooked meals, more and more Indians are gorging on fast food. What an irony!

What Hapur would be

If development was to happen and, say, the Government decides to eradicate various socio-economic problems (that’s what development usually means) from Hapur, it would grow from a small town with poor infrastructure to a fancy, large town with better infrastructure. What would happen then?

  1. The roads would probably improve, making people buy more cars, leading to congestion on the roads and more air pollution. [Problem]
  2. More cars would mean lesser space for people who travel on cycles and walk regularly (both are healthy habits. Cars make us lazy and pollute the environment).[Problem]
  3. Farmland would be auctioned/given away to large corporations for developing offices, apartments, malls, factories, warehouses. Of course, some schools and a few hospitals would be built too hopefully. [Solution to employ the youth who are unemployed, problem for farmers who are currently employed]
  4. The population would probably explode too. [Problem?]
  5. Larger buildings would require maintenance. That would lead to higher costs for starting a business in Hapur. [Problem]
  6. People would get better paying jobs in these newly created buildings and they would want to spend money somewhere.
  7. Obviously, they would spend on better (read, branded) clothes, eat out at restaurants and fast food joints, travel, give their families a better life. A consumeristic life, but a “better” life. (A more commercial life?)
  8. All this spending would obviously generate a lot of trash which would either recycled (less likely), or stored in public landfills (more likely), created stink and disease.

If the government followed the traditional model of development in Hapur too like they have done in the big cities of India (i.e, blinding aping Western culture), there would be more problems than solutions!

Myths

People across the world often buy things such as more clothes, more shoes, more this and more that when they are bored or when they have a lot of extra money to burn. They are basically bored and want some variety in their wardrobes, on their plates, in their homes and in their lives. Variety, they say, is the spice of life. Nothing wrong with that. But it often goes to an extreme.

However, this consumeristic habit seems to be changing. So many things around you leads to confusion and people now want less confusion and less distraction.

A very clear example of this confusion from my personal experience: I have spent 12 years in a boarding school where we had uniforms for every part of the day. There was one set of clothes for playing sports, one set to attend classes, and one set to wear in the evenings. You spent 5 seconds changing clothes and then you were off doing whatever you were supposed to be doing. When I left school, I loved the freedom of wearing whatever I wanted. Later, I realized that instead of the 5 seconds it took me to dress up and go to work, it took me a good half an hour. It is so confusing when you have to decide what to wear everyday and time consuming too! No wonder some people developed uniforms for themselves even after school –

  • Steve Jobs – Black turtleneck, blue jeans
  • Mahatma Gandhi – Khadi robe, round glasses
  • Karl Lagerfeld – Tuxedo and sunglasses
  • Albert Einstein (grey suit and crazy hair)
  • Mark Zuckerburg – Gray Tshirt and jeans
  • Monks in all religions (Orange, White, etc)
  • 10 designers who always wear the same thing

What I would want then

Probably after a few years of living in that developed Hapur, I would want the things that under-developed Hapur initially offered:

  1. I will want a quiet atmosphere to “discover” who I am.
  2. I will want home cooked food because it is healthy and because everywhere they are talking about why cooking food at home is better than eating out.
  3. I will want to free myself of buying things because I would then have realised that things don’t lead to happiness.
  4. I would want lesser cars on the road because they would have increased the pollution, the noise and the chaos. There would also, obviously be lesser space for people to ride cycles (which are environmental friendly a huge fad in developed cities here and elsewhere) and walk on the roads (yet another hugely popular trend!)

It’s funny how life is. We, living in the small cities of India, have a bit of the lifestyle which Americans living in huge towns, strive for. A lot of us want an American lifestyle (I don’t exactly know what it means and my perceptions have been largely shaped by movies and books. Some of it from friends who have stayed abroad).

The grass is green sortofa thing.

My mind – a crazy monkey!

My mind keeps questioning which one I should go for. Should I go for a life in a busy city where there are tons of things to do and indulge myself in or, equivalently, tons of things to complain about?

Or should I live in a quiet little town where there’s not much to do but plenty of time for repose and relaxation? The laid back lifestyle of a small town is good for health, is it bad for wealth or wisdom? The fast paced lifestyle or an urban metropolis is definitely not that great for health. Or is it?

I should stop thinking so much perhaps. But then I would be like a dog which eats, sleeps and poops.

 

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