This is not going to be one of those articles where I confess my love for a place. I hate this place and can’t wait to pack my bags and leave. Hell, I hate it so much that I am embarrassed to even say its name and admit that I have been living here for the last 15 months.
However, I could not help but notice that there is almost nothing interesting written about this place, on the web or otherwise. I intend to change that. As crappy as it is living in a city of black outs and loud mouths, there are certain things that I feel are worth sharing. Some of them might make you want to come here, and some will just make you appreciate the place where you live now. I certainly appreciate the hell out of Delhi and Kolkata now.
So from tonight, I will bring to you a small series of articles about the nuances of living in a small city in western Uttar Pradesh.
And yes, I am serious about not naming this place. The main reason being, I do not want to offend anyone. After all, there are people who have been living here since birth and call it their home. (Feel sorry for them)
However, I will not discourage guesswork.
And again, just for the record, I HATE this place.
Things I hate about this city
Fifteen months is a long time to live in a place that you hated from day one. From my unreasonably expensive, ugly apartment to the traffic jams induced my sugarcane trucks and bullock carts, there are very few things about this place that I like.
Let me first touch upon the things I hate the most about this city.
- My Apartment: When I first came to this city from Kolkata, I had the habit of going to my balcony first thing in the morning to collect the newspaper. Here, if I go out to my balcony in the morning, I get this overwhelming smell of cow dung from our neighbour’s empty next door plot that seem to preserve it and use it as fuel. (Switched to e-paper now). In the evening, I see people passed out or on the verge of passing out near the local Desi alcohol bar, just a few feet from the apartment.
Why have I not changed apartments?
Because, I have not seen a single neighbourhood where things seem even a tad nicer.
2. Frequent Black outs: Let me put it this way. It will be impossible for a human to survive the vicious North Indian summer here without an alternate power source, like a generator or an inverter. Black outs happen daily and can at times last over 6 hours.
Days without a blackout in the last 15 months: One (It was the best Sunday here!)
3. The Voice Tone: The people of U.P. have a different voice tone as compared to people from other parts of India. It sounds harsher and louder. That is not to say the people here are jerks. (Most are)
Over the past one year, I have learnt that speaking loudly with an aggressive harsh tone is just the way most of these people have been raised to speak. So, to a new resident here, even the compliments can seem like abuses. But you will get used to it and start speaking back the same way in no time. However, you may offend your friends outside of U.P. if you speak to them in the same tone. I know I have.
4. Slow Internet: If you are like me and use the internet for hours at stretch, this place would test your patience to the max. The 3G service is not available in the whole city and the speed is not uniform. If you are into heavy downloads, this is hell.
5. The Big One: Yes, this is the one that I hate the most. Here, you will often hear people referring to each other by their castes and religions. The other day, I asked a guy if he knew my friend and he thought about it for a moment, and asked if he was the son of a “Teli”.
People here are divided into groups, the major ones being Jaats, Muslims, and Chamars. Things may seem normal on the outside, but there are undertones of separatism prevailing under the surface and can boil over during times of tension. During these times, the police will block all the roads, few politicians will use some cheap tricks to gather support and gain publicity, and the groups will vent out their frustrations by mercilessly beat each other up.
I just wish that a day will come when some politician, instead of creating more groups in the society, will try and gather votes by uniting them all.
Anyways, enough hatred for tonight. Now for the things that I like. There are not many.
- The Tandoori Chicken: The TC’s here are softer, creamier, tastier and cheaper as compared to the ones in Delhi.
- Getting from “A” to “B”: One of the biggest advantages of staying in a small city is that you can get from one corner of the city to the other in no time. In places like Delhi or Kolkata, it is not uncommon for people to spend hours in traffic and waste a big chunk of their day inhaling disgusting fumes, and waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Here, you just hire a rickshaw and go anywhere in the city for about Rs. 10 to Rs. 20
- The Dearth Of Shopping Malls: Yes, it can be a good thing if you are constantly trying to save money for your future trips. With no pizza joints, multiplexes, fancy restaurants, my monthly expenses are at an all time low. Two thumbs up for that!