IntroductionMuch of what we see in reality can be taken as truth. This is the first-hand experience. Though generalization is not that easy, there is every possibility that such is the state of affairs, in other parts of the country too.
This author lives at the moment, for most of his life, in a small town called Sholinghur, in the Vellore District of Tamil Nadu. It is a perfect small town. In fact, a big outgrown village. But it is also the nerve center of a big number of at least sixty villages within a radius of just ten kilometers on all the four sides. Some advantages of living in this sort of environment can be discussed with respect to a) Unsophisticated people and their simple ways b) Increasing urbanization and media exposure c) Deep affinity to one's roots d) Much cheaper cost of living e) Better preservation of culture and spiritual values.
Unsophisticated people and their simple waysOne has to see and experience life in such environs to feel the difference. As a rule, rural or semi-urban people are very practical and are almost totally devoid of the giant-sized egos we get to see in the urban and metro souls. Life is very easy. For example, though every household has more than one two-wheeler, the number of cars is very less for a small town of 1.5 lakh people. The traffic is huge on Sholinghur roads with the latest motorcycles being present everywhere. This is because people like to go out and physically buy their commodities. One also has to take into account the twenty thousand two-wheelers from the surrounding villages. The roads are ok. Within a 1.5 kilometer radius of the town, there are four petrol bunks doing huge business.
The reference to traffic is deliberate. People like to relate to each other and the business community is very united. Each and every shop keeper knows the others in the same business. Unlike Chennai, which is just 150 minutes away by car, the people out here give discounts for every single item of purchase. The people are the most trustworthy. The bank managers out here are amazed by the presence of at least ten different chit funds. These chit funds offer immediate credit, unlike banks. The entire savings with returns of around 12 percent is totally tax-free. Jewel loans are taken from the banks for immediate needs. Such loans are also given by the local cooperative banks.
There is excellent growth in many businesses. For example, the number of shops selling cell phones and spare parts and offering services to repair them is now over forty. There are sixty share autos to nearby villages.
People are generally very honest, trustworthy and reliable. The question of cheating others never arises. People are very simple by nature. They dress quite well. They relate to each other very well. If there is a marriage, the number of guests would exceed two thousand for the first day's dinner!! As a rule, everyone is invited. The local cooks take over. The cost of a single meal is still less than Rs125. In Chennai, most contractors charge Rs600 per meal. Low costs allow the luxury of the huge crowds to be invited. The relationships, the caring and sharing are simply superb. There is honesty in the air. Artificial relationships are zero.
Increasing urbanization and media exposureThe elders are a bit worried about the media exposure. Smaller supermarkets where one can feel the product and shop are coming up everywhere. Even in villages with a small population of just around eighty thousand. Love affairs between communities are still not encouraged. But they do happen. The lovers elope and bring shame to the parents. At least this is what is still believed. This practice is still rare. However, the same movies and the TV serials are just about beginning to have a big impact.
This is a little worrying. However, counseling by broad-minded elders has sometimes united the families even after three years.
Yet, the increasing urbanization in terms of so many beauty parlors is a fact of life. In Chennai, it is common to see backless blouses. But even in smaller villages, one can see such fashions among college going girls. The parents do not like this one bit. However, the advantages of increasing urbanization bring its own advantages. Branded hotels like the Adayar Amanda Bhavan have a branch on the Chennai to Bangalore Highway.
This makes it easy for the comparatively rich, including this author, to drive down just 30 kilometers to enjoy a good dinner in an air-conditioned environment. Every branded item is there in Sholinghur within 7 days.
It is not that is happening only in Tamil Nadu. Just across the border, in the neighboring town of Chittoor, one does find the bigger supermarkets and the rural folk rushing to the town to enjoy everything. The experiences are similar. However, if one has the money, it is like having the best of both worlds. At much lesser costs. And with almost nil pollution. Yes, increasing urbanization has its own advantages.
Deep affinity to one's rootsThis is a big plus. One has to see this to believe it. There are children settled in the USA and parts of Europe. Yet, for an important marriage, they would come down to the village and start working ten days in advance. The presence of at least thirty relatives doing every single job that needs to be done for the marriage is re-assuring. The A to Z weddings of the urban Centers is still not common. People take it as an insult if such a suggestion is even made. The community cooking is mostly done with traditional firewood. Six to seven highly dedicated women do all the cooking even for twenty-five people. For fifteen days prior to the marriage. The same women also literally control the entire inventory of raw materials used to prepare food for a huge number of guests on the marriage day. The serving of food on the traditional banana leaves is done by the male members of either family. The caring and sharing take place as a routine.
One never gets to see this in the metro cities and towns. The "Hai and bye" culture at times looks very commercial and even disgusting. This is totally absent in the smaller towns and in the villages.
The yearly visits to the native villages during the yearly temple festival is even more interesting. Donations pour in from all over. Those abroad somehow make it. At least once in two years. Another fabulous practice. Those who earn several hundreds of thousands of rupees per annum, still do not like to buy or build houses in the cities. They always buy land in the village and build the bigger houses with all ultra modern facilities in their villages. To even imagine a house without a 700 square foot garden and with trees giving the rural folk enough flowers for their daily pooja is next to impossible. We easily get to see superb houses of more than 2400 square foot of built-up area. This sort of construction helps the unskilled to easily find jobs in the villages itself. This is a very good economic spin-off.
Much cheaper cost of livingThis is the biggest plus. Organic vegetables fresh from the gardens. Seven varieties of fresh spinach at 6 AM in the morning. Apple at Rs.100 per kg. The same costs cost Rs320 in Bangalore and at least Rs250 in Chennai. The cost of living is very cheap. In the villages, good houses built in the traditional style are still available for Rs1200 rent per month. Even in Sholinghur, a 1200 square foot built up area independent house with all amenities is available for Rs7000 per month. In the good localities of Chennai, even a 400 square foot flat would cost as much. Servant maids work for much lesser wages. The smaller hotels offer breakfast for around Rs35. And a good lunch is still Rs70. Compare this to Rs130 in Chennai. No GST, for sure.
Transport costs are much less. Even the best Rajnikanth movie will cost just Rs80 on the fourth day. The environment is okay. Every single item of expenditure comes cheap. Much cheaper transport cost too. The winters are lovely. The spread of the residential localities makes it easier for the cold air to be present everywhere. This is good for health too. Lesser pollution leads to lesser costs of medicine. In the villages, the people have herbal medicines for every ailment. This is interesting too.
Better preservation of culture and spiritual valuesPeople in smaller towns still take the advice of elders and respect them by touching their feet. They pray to God and preserve traditions. For example, there is a particular attire that is prescribed for worship in any temple. Both men and women, across communities, respect the same. The woman may be employed in HDFC bank at Chennai. When she comes to the village, she wears the traditional sari, glass bangles, flowers and dies the fasting too. The man wears the traditional dhoti and there is absolutely no compromise whatsoever. This is exactly what the locals want. Even in 2019, the traditions are never broken. Pongal is always Pongal.
Friends in Kerala celebrate Onam in a very similar manner. One also understands that the situation is the same even in the Karnataka villages. One needs to be proud that culture and traditional spiritual values are not still lost in the name of urbanization or modernization. Let us celebrate culture with all its glory in our villages. The situation may not be different in the States up North or in Karnataka for that matter. Or even in Maharashtra.
Conclusion India still lives in its villages. Tamil Nadu, with over fifty percent urbanization, may be slightly different. But the ways of life are somewhat similar. Let us celebrate life in all its various forms and in its diversity. Nothing will ever be the same. However, our villages will still continue to contribute to the economy like never before.
This is a big plus. The sum and substance of rural life are that it is very exciting. It is thrilling with different aspects of culture.
Let that be intact. India can very much afford such co-existence in every way of life.
It is a very detailed article written by the author on a very interesting subject. It is true that real India lies in rural settlements. These are the areas or settlements untouched or rather less affected with the hustle bustle that is commonly seen in urban areas of India. The best advantage of staying here is that one gets to live a simple life amidst simple people. Who doesn’t want to live in natural surroundings away from the polluted environment? Simpler and natural life is what rural areas provide.
One can take into consideration air to water and peace to health. The air of rural areas is much pure when compared to city air. The water is less polluted. If an individual is living in a rural part of India, it is obvious that he is enjoying a spacious place. One gets to enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits. The same ones are sold in urban areas as organic fruits and vegetables costing everyone a fortune.
Exactly madam. We often observe that less pollution leads to far lesser health issues. And people never run to the doctor for anything and everything. We can find so many herbal plants like Keezha Nelli (Phyllanthus Niruri or Stone-Breaker as it is commonly known) in our fields that has so many medicinal properties which if used appropriately can cure so many diseases including liver problems. I guess we have lost all our native intelligence. We should perhaps encourage big research into the traditional forms of medicine and come out with breakthroughs. Yes, rural India should remain unpolluted.