Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Impressions of Indore

Chhote chhote sheheron se, khali bore dopaharon se, Bunty aur Babli jhola utha ke chale...

What is it that defines a 'chhota sheher'? By population, Indore city is a large town of 1.8 million residents - double the size of Chandigarh.

And yet, Chandigarh is not a city you associate with being a 'small town'. It's almost 'metro' in its attitude and way of life. Indore, on the other hand, is still a chhota sheher at heart.

I would define a chhota sheher as one where the residents are still very worried about log kya kahenge. Many choices an individual makes are within certain 'acceptable' boundaries. Boundaries set by the elders and some amorphous being known as 'society'.

One important point to note here is the large population of banias in Indore - traders and businessmen from the Jain, Maheshwari and Agrawal community. That partly explains why Indore is far more 'traditional' than Chandigarh!

Punjabis are far more freewheeling and freespending, while banias tend to be quite attached to prathas- or social conventions.

Which is why my cousin's mother-in-law - a sweet old lady - found me rather vexing. No sari, bangles, no sindoor, no toerings... "Kam se kam bindi to pehen ni chahiye", she murmured, after silently observing my kurta-and-jeans-clad frame for two days.

Kam se kam logon ko pataa to chale you are a 'decent married woman' is what she meant. But was too polite to declare, in so many words.

As they say - in Indore, do as the Indoreans do. Which is why a hoarding for Dena Bank featuring Juhi Chawla - without any bindi in Mumbai - has a prominent red dot painted on - in Indore!

Ek alag soch
'Progress' is a strange creature. Mother-in-law does not mind my cousin taking guitar lessons or choosing to have only one child (a daughter). But, she insists that bahu wear only saris. Bahu would much prefer to switch to salwar-kameez - but accepts silently.

Meanwhile, Indore is on the radar of all consumer marketers. But does junta here think and behave like Mumbai or Delhi? Not yet.

Both Dominos and Pizza Hut set up shop here... and subsequently shut down. "Sau rupaye ka pizza kaun lega?" reasons Lucky, a young nephew studying 'MFA' at the local Vaishnav university.

Ditto with the Lee-Levis variety of outlets which he says, hardly any students patronise. The unbranded options give them more bang for the buck and offer acceptable quality/ variety.

That ain't good news for all the malls and multiplexes which will soon throw open their doors in Indore. But perhaps housed in a mall - with a concentrated 'feel-good' ambience - the same brands may have better luck. And hopefully, sales.

As of now, Lucky is quite kicked with the local 'Vishal Megamart' (a chain which offers 'Fashion Street' kind of clothing in a/c environs). For now, 'value' scores over 'snob value'. But values can, and do, change over time.

What is 'value' anyways?
Consumers are complex creatures. That's evident from the consumerism practiced at this cousin's home.

A battered and seldom-used semi-automatic washing machine stands in one corner. The television is an ancient model of BPL and there's no cable connection. "Bachchon ki padhaai affect ho jayegi", is one reason. 350 bucks a month is too much to shell out - is the other.

However, the same household has a computer, with a broadband internet connection. Why? "Bachchon ki padhaai ke liye zaroori hai". Even though they aren't planning to take up 'hi-fi' careers, an investment in a computer is seen as 'worth it'.

And now, jijaji wants to buy a laptop. "Kaun sa brand achcha rahega?" he asks. I wonder why he needs one. The answer is surprising but simple: dhande ke liye.

You see, jijaji is an 'investment advisor' and although he has a loyal client base, there's a whole lot of competition now from new players. The likes of Citibank, HDFC Bank and HSBC have set up shop and their army of young, locally recruited MBAs is on the prowl.

These MBAs wear suits and ties and make jazzy presentations on laptops. "Is liye mujhe bhi laptop lena padega," he grins. "Impression jamaane ke liye".

What the Citis and HDFCs can't do is offer the 'personalised' service many clients require. For example, there are ladies who will specifically ask jijaji to come to their homes after their husbands have left for work - they wish to make certain 'private investments'.

Yup, these housewives want to make FDs or post-office savings - of money received from the maaika, or quietly salted away from the household budget. Like many other clients, these women use our address to receive their official correspondence.

"Hamare ghar mein roz ke itne courier aate hain ki sab delivery waalon se acchi khaasi jaan pehchaan ho gayi hai," says my cousin dryly. The perils of 'customer relationship management'!

The future
And yet, the picture I have painted so far does not tell the complete story. Although still small and not very visible, a 'new' Indore is coming up.

The new Indore consists of nuclear families, multi storeyed apartments, women clad in Babli kurtas and an emerging professional class.

This Indore houses a 'Bombay hospital' and an 'IIM'. Of course, IIM is only technically part of Indore - physically it's 16 kms outside of it and mentally, a completely different world.

But there are local MBA schools like 'Prestige'and 'IMS' which, by Indore standards, are decent. The students may not be CAT-level but speak fairly good English and don't look all that different from college kids in Delhi or Mumbai. They also have more 'freedom'.

Lucky explains the difference thus: "On Valentine's Day, Prestige had an 'official program' where students even auctioned roses...At our college (Vaishnav) when a group of boys and girls went to the local ice cream parlour a professor jumped onto a scooter, located us and dragged us back to the campus".

That's not to say Lucky is bechaara. He has plenty of friends who are girls - but no girlfriend. And, that's a conscious choice. Shaadi to arranged hi karni hai, he reasons. So, bekaar ke lafdon mein kyun padna?

It remains to be seen how long young people like Lucky - who still form the majority - continue to think this way. Until then, Indore's 'small town' status will remain safe. And so will the sale of bindis!

59 comments:

  1. hey RASHMI
    chote chote shehro mein khali bore dopharon mein tum jhola uthaake chalein....tum chale tum chale aur blog likh diyee..
    (ok aadaab!!)

    well the types of Lucky who have fun with galz but end up doin the right thin for them,mom-in law who mk u wear the sari n de bindi but are lenient enuf to allow the transition to the salwar -dress, the jijajis who still beleive in the traditional styles of management and are yet capable of giving a sore throat to the gyaani MBAs with certain (but not compelete) modifications to their lifestyles and the banias - the biggest threat to the Walmart kinds are those that not only define the culture of the chota shehar but the entire nation and we all take ( n have taken some or the other time) pride in this culture ,however western (read : modern) weve become here in the metro. Metros ..ha! aint are fingers enough to count all in India ???

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  2. Wonderful Observations! Although I slightly disagree with your definition of chotta shehar. Middle-class Bombay vastly shares a similar mentality of, log kya kahenge. It is, sometimes, only a facade that Bombay is a big-city...

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  3. rashmi good post, but just a couple of points

    1) it seems very obvious that you have this superiority complex of living in a big city - it is obvious from the post that you are looking down upon Indore and its people

    2) Lucky is doing 'MFA'. Why is that in quotes?? Just because it is not a MBA or a PGP from IIM Ahemdabad

    Rashmi, sudhaar jaa. Change your attitude or u will be slapped with another law suit, this time from the people of Indore

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  4. Being as I am from Indore, I find nothing objectionable... quite amusing really, and pretty much on the money most of the time

    To those Indories who find this objectionable - get a life guys, and learn to laugh at yourselves

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  5. Indore sounds like Utopia for family life.

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  6. Hi Rashmi,

    A very good read this. Refreshing!

    I would also like to say that I did not think that you were looking down upon the people of Indore neither did I think you were being haughty for being from IIMA.

    Do keep blogging. (how about something on Pune!!)

    Nilesh

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  7. You said

    "One important point to note here is the large population of banias in Indore - traders and businessmen from the Jain, Maheshwari and Agrawal community. That partly explains why Indore is far more 'traditional' than Chandigarh!"

    I say:
    I don't agree with this thing. Just existence of Marwadis can't result in backloging of a town (or city). Even in Pune, there is a lot of crowd of Marwadis or if you take examle of your own Mumbai, there is almost 50% crowd of Baniyas (Both Marwadi and Gujrathi). But this existence doesn't make Mumbai a backward city.. Infact it is the most forward city of ths country.. There can be lot more examples of the same..

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  8. people who live at a place more or less make its culture. those who inhabit it cmng 4m outside hv 2 follow suit n fit into the frame. hv nt bn 2 indore, but agree to most of your points, having read abt indore n met ppl!

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  9. Excellent post Rashmi!!
    This reminds me my own small city.

    But I think 85% India still 'traditional' that way.

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  10. nice read and well written! found nothing offensive abt it!

    Keep writing is all I can say!

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  11. I differ in my definition of a chhota sheher slightly.

    A small town is where people are not yet perpetually bored, where chaps play cricket on the local maidan instead of roaming around on bikes, where the local katta has not been replaced by the pool club, where ganne ka ras is still available on street corners, where people are not afraid of strangers and where the entire mohalla turns up to welcome newcomers and celebrate homecomings.

    I live in a small town.

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  12. Good to read about Indore from an outsider's perspective. Made me think about my "shehar". Just to add to what you wrote

    1) In most "bada shehars" you have a old city which at its soul remain the "chota shehar" be it Mumbai, Delhi, Pune or Indore. At Indore we have an aggressively growing "bada shehar" and a cutely preserved "chotta shehar" separated by a quitessential mark of progress an overbridge above the railway line that passes through the heart of the city.

    2) In every bada shehar the malls, and multiplexes run because of the so called "modern face" of the city. I was one of those who felt that this section is too small in Indore and so put my foot in my mouth stating that such malls/mutiplexes/discotheques will not do well in Indore. To my surprise those who opened shop did not just do well but are regretting as to why they did not plan bigger projects.

    3) Dominos (Pizza Hut never opened shop here) story though true is old and does not find many parallel. Today in Indore national coffe chains are thriving and mc-donalds has dropped anchor.

    3) Though less visible and active only in specific spaces - the city has a much larger "metro like" diaspora then what you believe. The explosion of malls/multiplexes will just help them be more visible and hence expand faster.

    4) There is another definition to the "bada Shehar" - Liberal society's ugly face - increased sex related crime and flesh trade - both of which also thrives in Indore. Recently NDTV had done a story on how college girls living in hostels find it easy to make money by going on a weekend trip to Mumbai with friendly "customers". As for crime - just read through the two major hindi dailies from the city and you would know that there is a thriving "bhai" culture of extortions, kidnapping and Suparis.

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  13. Rashmi, your observations are quite profound but these people are just a subset of big indore. This is the info a outsider would get of Mumbai if he has just been to Chinchpokli or interacted with that kind of people only.

    also you have mixed 2 things.. picture of indore and picture of marwari community.
    by the way i know people in your mumbai who are supar rich but still has same attitude towards savings (not spending on brand names, a titan shows time and a rolex will also show time).

    Note: i too belong to indore and i am not offended by post.

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  14. I am really amassed at the way the article is written. If this is defination of small city, every middle class in any city would qualiy for the defination

    My household located in Hyderabad would absolutely fit this description and I am sure Hyderabad and the area I live cannot be termed as "chote sehar"

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  15. yes exactly, i agree with Goofy. it is exactly depicted in "hyderabad blues".
    it is a generation trying adopt to western culture at the same time holding back their indian values.

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  16. These were my impressions of Indore. Impressions are, by definition, subjective. I also gave the Chandigarh comparison to illustrate what I meant by big-town, small-town!

    To my mind, progress is about having more exposure, more choices. So yes, malls and multiplexes, internet access and satellite TV provide those things to an extent.

    I have no doubt that the food courts and hypermarts will take off immediately, while in the longer run so will other branded outlets. Of course, Mac is a hit everywhere :)

    The important difference between chhota and bada sheher is that in metros women can choose to be far more socially and economically independent. They may, of course, choose not to exercise that option but that option exists.

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  17. *raises eyebrow*

    A conversation turned into a blog and a great one at that. With so much more to say. :D I like the use of quotes for various things, including "IIM". :D

    Payne a.k.a Joseph

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  18. rashmi,
    You know that you have arrived in abig city,
    when you leave Bhai Sahab/Bhaiya and say Oye/Boss/SunYaar.
    You start to touch knees intead of feet or you shake hands instead of an embrace.
    You are suspicious of your country's progress and people around you.
    Your expenditure on security increases.
    Even if you have not been to happening places in the city, you admit of being there as others know about those places.
    List is endless. And it shall keep growing.
    On a whole we are unique set of people in the world.We loath at any change from outside, yet deep inside we yearn for it.So the computer, MBA, Washing machines etc etc.Just that the ones at the bigger cities have more avenues to be flumoxed and the ones will have their day very soon.

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  19. "The important difference between chhota and bada sheher is that in metros women can choose to be far more socially and economically independent. They may, of course, choose not to exercise that option but that option exists."

    ehuem
    this is not the differnece between the chhota sheher and metros...its women like u who think that you are more socially and economically independent, even women in villages are independent forget about the chhota sheher... independence doesnt mean wearing jeans and tee and not saree ...its in the minds and hearts which is well given to all indian women...u have been in a big city for too long to understand it ... ppl are happy the way they are in small towns and dont need others to tell me what to do...

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  20. Reading through your post, reminded me of Delhi years and years ago (O K ! I'm just 25 :P but Delhi HAS changed!!!).
    I have seen khets disappear and be replaced by buildings.
    I have seen roads come up atop roads.
    I have seen road-side tea-stalls give way to McDonalds and PizzaHuts.
    I have even seen the price for a movie ticket go from Rs.6 to Rs.150 (THIS is majorly disconcerting).


    Woh Dilli ki dopaharein.
    Woh loo ki chalti leherein.
    Woh 2 rupiye ki double-roti.
    Woh dukaanein chhoti chhoti.
    Woh nange paaon nikalna.
    Woh garm zameen ka jalna.
    socha tha kho na jaaye...
    mera sheher bahot yaad aaye...
    mera sheher bahot yaad aaye....


    Not bad eh ? ;)
    heh heh heh!

    Damn..Kansas City just doesnt have it!

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  21. I too am from Indore and I don't find the post offensive. But definitely it looks confused. First of all I couldn't understand how Rashmi (from Mumbai) suddenly finds so many observations about an alien town, and that too with confidence enough to write a post on it. If I go by your definition, I don't think that Indore is a small town. Actually what I feel that it is very difficult to give this generalization. It all depends in what social circle you belong to. One Indore is small and the other is big. Even in Mumbai I believe, if you life is restricted to a locality, you will fid it a small city. As far as the traditional part goes, again its different. I feel that you should have avoided this generalization. Comparisons are tough but it still remains the fact that Indore has the only multiplex in the whole of MP (its a different story that the rest of MP is far more conservative than Indore). The GF/BF thing again depends on the social circle.

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  22. Rashmi said
    "To my mind, progress is about having more exposure, more choices. So yes, malls and multiplexes, internet access and satellite TV provide those things to an extent.

    The important difference between chhota and bada sheher is that in metros women can choose to be far more socially and economically independent. They may, of course, choose not to exercise that option but that option exists."

    I say

    Now there is something wrong here.
    In your own words the availability of the option matters - which is very much available in most cities including Indore. If most women choose not to exercise the option - do you call that a "chotta Shehar".

    The fact that more women exercise the option in Mumbai as against an Indore is making a subtle difference to your mind.

    While you are at the point of women's independence - you might want to comment on The Soap Horror url("http://cool-discussions.blogspot.com/2005/11/soap-horror.html")

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  23. How could you didnt mention the roads when talking of Indore? Or for that matter the fact that Indori Chappan Dukan and Sarafa Chat market do more business than the pizza places!

    I love my small town Indore! :)

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  24. hi luverian
    nice reply, however ws hoping to read more on ur page but cudn't open ur blog..

    ppl, i thnk rashmi has right to be selfish with her views. its her blog n we luv readin it. n afterall indore is not just yours, its hers too .. so wat if she's from iimA. we must dare to think beyond iim's :) now i'm not pro iipm, infact i thnk rashmi has done gr8 favor to the younger india by exposin iipm especially the ppl frm chote shehar who get convinced of such ads . also i thnk baniya kids dnt need management frm iim or any1. they are better. ambani didnt' need it. graduates frm so called iims are only servants to da likes of mcdonalds. thy r brainwashed to serve them. atleast rashmi didn't succumb to that temptation of mnc salary. good rashmi. u deserve an applause. also, while chote shehar give less choice to women than bade shehar, women i guess hv been too much oppressed since ages no matter where they hv been.. also, u can be a good feminist too rashmi. ever read germaine greer? u'll like her. i wonder wat ur views on bindi wud be if u had been a 'Man', but i thnk i lk bindi's. even madonna looks cool in a bindi.. perhaps u also need this assurance from westerners that bindi is cool and not anti-feministic bondation on the weeker poor sex .. SIGH!

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  25. I pity the puerile folk here who can't take a dig at themselves. Man, 'Docs Dope' indeed. Uffffff....

    Good post Rashmi. I am from Goa and am quite familiar with the small town environment. Nice observations.

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  26. //Both Dominos and Pizza Hut set up shop here... and subsequently shut down.

    Really?? I never knew such eateries have to shut shop anywhere in India due to poor business.

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  27. Well actually, AFAIK Dominos had to shut down its shop in some parts of Mumbai too - because people would call up and ask for delivery to other people's houses.

    Thats not really a small-town problem, per say.

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  28. Indore sure is a chotta sheher, but being "mini-mumbai" there is no reason why a mumbaiya shouldn't feel at home there. Indore is notrious for its bad traffic and roads, pretty much whole of MP is plagued with the problem, still the relaxed lifestyle is what is bringing the IT people there slowly. Not many know that IT biggies CSC and Impetus apart from Webdunia are at Indore. Having spend close to 8 years there I hope it remains the cute "chotta" sheher, lest it bursts out of congestion and pressure on resources as Pune is doing now.

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  29. great post. keep them coming!

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  30. Hey Rashmi,
    Good read. As far as an outsider’s point of view is concerned I don’t find anything objectionable in this article. However being born and brought up in Indore I would like to clarify a few points.
    • The way you dress up does not show how broad/narrow is your thinking.
    • Whether each step of urs is dictated by the guidelines set by the society is again a personal choice .Yes in Indore u would probably find many ppl choosing to do so unlike cities like delhi/Mumbai/Pune.But there are others too.
    • Most of the Bschool and even IT parks have such sprawling campuses that it is difficult to find land within the city.So why say that IIM Indore is just technically a part of Indore.Are other B-Schools/IITs/IT parks located right in the heart of the cities?
    • If Indore students don’t have CAT level english then how come so many of them have been making it to the IIMs or other top 10 Bschools,many of them to ur alma mater also?
    • Marrying your gf/bf again depends on person to person.
    • Pizza Hut never did open an outlet there.How come u never mentioned the rush in chappan dukaan,Sarafa or the Indori namkeens ?Or Café coffe day/Mr Beans outlets where its diffcult to find a vacant seat most of the times.

    Indore was originally ruled by the holkars.You have other communities residing here too like the maharashtrians,Bengalis.sindhis,gujjus and Punjabis.I find the culture in Indore a nice blend of all these communities(U can say though that m a bit biased )
    So I really think you should not generalize things. Plus what is written in this blog is more of an impression of the marwari community in Indore.
    Btw where u in Indore to attend IIM I’s annual fest?
    Looking fwd to read/post other articles on this website

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  31. hey there! not exactly nice but an interesting read.
    m late to reply to your blog but still ahve a few points to make...
    big city need not to be scaled on their population.. yeah as in ur blog Chandigarh is a rather big city may be in the sense that its a well planned place with better civic ameneties, people stcik to rules and bla bla bla
    you said IIM just has feablest link with INDORE if the distance is the creteria may be then IITB shld be called IIT Kanjurmarg :) and the new campus of the IIM i has been planned at the present site so ( i hope you can guess the reasons)
    and don't tell me that your sis' Mother-in-law happens to be the face of indore, that is only ur family matter (i belong to the most traditional Maharshtrian family but still don't find ne experience like this in my family) so the things is these things remain family specific.

    and if have better things to munch and better places to kill time why go to some McD or well Pizza hut never steeped in Indore or Wimpy's (my one time favourite), you could have seen 56, sarafa, Rambabu's or GK (well you don't seem somebody to visit GK though)and btw what do you get to eat in Mumbai vada-Pav, Misal-Pav or dabheli(thank Gujjus for this variety)and mind you Baat kabhi bhi Sau rupaye ki nahi hoti its what ur testbuds are progarammed for.

    one more aspect where Chhote Shahar like Indore score over the metros is the safety for women, you can ride ur bikes (only if ur Sweet-old-lady permits) at midnight without caring for this thing called safety (sorry to say but these Two metros you mentioned i.e. Mumbai and Chandigarh ahve shameful records in this regard.

    reagrdinf clothes (my domain take it from me)... think without a biased mindset, not all can afford to sport Lee-Levis (Levis stopped manufacturing a few months back in USA) but you can have all this stuff here (p'haps ur Jiaji had time only yo show you Vishaal Megamart) and don't tell me you never went to fashion Street. And the local brands i can name a few for Men's if you want which have comparable quality matching to the brands that you can recognise...
    i can imagine that may be 350 bucks is nothing for you for TV but in a common household that will make hell of a difference... (well sorry to say again may be either u're born with a silver spoon or life has not taught you the value of money)... just pass by the slum around ur work-place... mumbai has Slums in plenty...

    and comes the pink part of the reply...
    the valentine's day thing... Lucjy is very luckt to have a mindset like that (blve me he saves lots of time, energu and money)... but sincerly this is the problem across the country (remember the las time you saw shiv-sena activists looting, breaking the Archies gallery or some thing like that) atleast you don't get scenses like those in my Chhota Shahar...

    well i started replying a bit annoyed but ur profile makes you rather a logical person so comment the way you like or even don't but still don't wear ur SPECS when visit a chhota shahar

    reagrds swapnil
    " if you win silver, you lose gold"

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  32. Hi,

    Nicely written post, and an honest expression of feelings. Thanks..!

    I am from a small town Akola in Maharastra, and I actually find the small-city life better. I actually like girls who wear bindis, and I feel nice when I see married women wearing saaris and bindis, and merging with the rest of the house culture. And I dont think that big-city life actually is provably better.

    It looks better with a shorter foresight. But not proveable in the long run.

    The current western "pop" culture is unsustainable, and it deteriorates pretty fast into being "unhuman". Whereas, we have been sustaining our culture for a very long time, though, not without problems.

    I had written a post on comparison between small and big city life.

    http://gaurang.org/blog/archives/2005/05/small_town_life.html

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  33. hey rashmi;

    Coincidently ive written an article on similar lines with similar title........it can be read at:
    http://www.meriawazsuno.blogspot.com/
    for those who are interested....

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  34. Hi rashmi,
    I have been a regular reader of your blog since a long time…..
    Thanks for writing some good stuff through these many days.
    I must say that the frequency of the posts has decreased….. :--(
    Well now some thing about the current post.
    Don’t mind but you really seem to be confused about your subject.
    I guess that you are a big feminist! And that leaves an impression on many of your posts! You talk about the baniyas, the iim the marts the bindis, your relatives from Indore! But some where around, you lose the real picture of Indore. Pretty bad. Your description of a “chota- sheher” should have been general description.
    I mean there are a few things about it which may be true but not all.
    First off …the baniya community although huge in population does not represent Indore as a whole, there are many other communities who have a vibrant culture.
    Now about the Dominos and Pizza Hut and the sau rupayye ka pizza...
    I do agree that people of Indore are not spend-thrift. Well its like
    The general attitude over here is if we can find more munch in our local
    Chappan or sarafa or rajwada and a bang for the bucks why should we go to
    Spend Some where else? I feel there is nothing wrong about it. Its pretty good to
    Save money isn’t it?
    Now you talk about the local Vaishnav colleges….. I too am a grad from a
    Vaishnav College and am proud about it. I am doing pretty well in the worlds second biggest software company .and the case is similar with many of the college mates and pass outs and other indorians. So there is nothing bad about it as to look down upon it or its students. Vaishnav trust is doing a very good job by fulfilling their social responsibilities.
    Then you talk about the iim I as not being the part of Indore. I feel that here physical distance should not be a constraint this is a very similar case with most of the BIG schools ….and yes let me tell you one thing that there are N number of students from Indore who make it to the IITs, IIMs and many of the top colleges in India every year. So mind it when you say “The students may not be CAT-level “.
    And about relationships ….. Tell me how many GF-BF relations grow up into committed relationships in the cities? and it only happens in the west that certain Ms Britney spears marries her childhood BF only to divorce him the very next day So I guess Mr. XYZ’s choice to be ‘single and not looking’ is ok and off course its his personal choice.
    And the Bindis: - I am sure you would adore the bindis when Madonna “sports” it.
    I mean why should a married woman hesitate to declare that she is married?
    And how does, not wearing a bindi relate to a choice (read freedom).
    And yes I don’t think your metros offer choice to women to pass safely on streets in the night without a fear of some thug or a bad guy lurking some where around.
    And reaching your home comfortably without getting stuck in traffic JAM!
    So when the next time you visit Indore,(did you really come to Indore first off?)
    as some body said please don’t wear those feminist glasses and leave your prejudices. Then you will discover what is right with it.
    I LOVE INDORE my dear “chota sheher”!
    yes offcourse this was just to do with the post and nothing with you.
    so keep writing and giving food for thought.
    thanks,
    regards.
    satya.

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  35. Interesting that Rashmi defines big-town / small town by attitudes / restrictions on women. Surely that's not all there is to it? From her perspective, maybe there is though... But by that logic, one should be talking about communities, not towns. The Marwari communities are pretty strict towards women even in Calcutta (from personal experience, they are stricter in Calcutta than they are in Indore). Surely that doesn't make Calcutta a small town?

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hi guys,
    Firstly a little correction in the translation here. “ Chota Shehar” implies small city and not small town. There is a difference. Calling it a “town” looks down upon its development.
    Secondly, being called a “small city “ can be a compliment . But for the parameters used here to elaborate, I wish it had a broader vision.

    Every culture has its own traditions and pros and cons but so does being mindlessly modern or western. And some things like bindis might not have a logic but they should still be respected as they reflect the sentiments of a group of people .Being a marwari I totally agree that the community is conservative and needs to change with time but giving it as a logic for calling a place as “small city “ …….. oops “small town” is cribbing too much.

    Agreed that most of the people here worry about Log kya kahenge. But it is an individual attitude and in many situations even stops him from wrong (though subjective) /harmful things. Also how much a person follows his belief and how much he follows social norms depends on his courage of conviction and the logic behind such norms. I wonder if conservatism and societal interventions qualify places like Calcutta and Jaipur as a “small town” too.

    As for the big time brands like dominos and levis not being able to sell, well if the supply is more than the demand , economies will fail. And whether a person buys a BPL or a Samsung or an LG depends on his circumstances. Just like any other city in developing India, there is a large chunk of population which is a struggling class who work very hard to earn their livelihood and save for future. So what if the population in Indore is 1.8 million. What matters is the absolute number above a decent per capita income who can afford to spend easily on luxuries. Moreover on occasions these outlets have closed because they have not been able to customize and cater Indian palate or physique.I think this should be looked at sensitively and not used as an argument to prove a point.

    May be many people buy a lap top “ Impression Jamane ke liye” But anywhere in India or in world when a person can commute in a Maruti 800 or likes but still buys a Lancer or an Accord, it is to impress people and achieve a snob value. We all like to feel superior. So a person doing it in particular city doesn’t make it its trade mark, does it? Snob value and “Maika wala “ savings is a universal attribute which exist equally in a small as well as big cities. So be it.

    Yeh there are not many institutes which part world class “ DEGREES “ in Indore. But I feel education in the right sense of the word is the one which makes an individual think and deal with various situations in life sensitively and sensibly. A person’s education level depends more on his attitude than on the city or the college he is in. With high regards to IITs and IIMs I completely agree that they definitely have something more but if these degrees give students a reason to be “arrogant” then I think it’s quite a turn off.

    Discover yourself guys. Don’t get carried away with the jeans and pizza mindset. I am sure that a majority of Indians find sarees more sexy and graceful and lassis more healthy.

    ReplyDelete
  37. The Actual reasons why Indore is still a small city

    Now I'm taking this to a completely different dimension(Well, some of you might not even find this relavant to the current discussion).I might as well land up writing the biggest comment on this blog, but I wish everyone reads this comment and absorbs some info.
    I've myself spent 20 yrs of my life in this city, and I've come to realise the problems of Indore after I moved to Mumbai for a job.These problems have plagued the city for decades, and continue to do so.

    Indorians take pride in calling Indore as "Mini Bombay". They should rather call it "Mega Ujjain" or "Super Devas". It is just not correct to compare Indore with the biggest city in the country.We are way way behind.. At heart, Indore doesn't want to be a "Chota Sheher", but there are several factors which have prevented it from growing.

    Here are some of them :

    1. Lack of Infrastructure: Take a One hour drive through the various roads and you would find the answer. For any manufacturing unit, the basic requirements are Water / Electricity / Proper transportation. Does Indore provide any of them ? The problem is at the State Govt. Level as well as local admin. level.
    Ten years back, the Sunderlal Patwa government used to take pride in calling Pithampur as "Detroit of India". But Pithampur has now reduced to a troubled industrial area with several sick units struggling to survive. They are now arranging their own power and water, and just hoping for the roads to improve (which has not happened in the Past 25 years).

    1.1. Indore has a huge resource pool of Engineers / Post graduates. Just go to the top 10 software companies and Banks / Financial institutions in India, and you would see hundreds of Indori guys working there. But the same companies cannot think of opening a development center or an office at Indore. Reason: Power ?? Communication ?? I cannot imagine how they can survive with power cuts / Network failures etc. Most of the companies have identified Indore as a potential spot for expansion, but it is too big a risk for them. Which company would like to risk an investment of multiple crores ?
    Indore can provide a descent stength of employees to Call centres and other back-office operation firms. But are the firms comfortable with the idea of venturing into a city where they would lose connectivity every hour.. where there is no power for their AC's / Network servers and other devices.
    Though the polulation is 18 lakhs, can we even name 18 big companies operating in Indore ? I guess not..Boasting of companies like CSC /Impetus doesn't help.

    1.2. I suppose Indore residents have accepted Bad roads as a way of life. Narrow roads full of potholes and dust are a trademark of the city.Even the Ringroad which is supposed to handle huge traffic is in a pathetic state. Go out on the streets at Dusk and see the level of dust pollution. See the thick mass of dust hanging in the air.

    Then we have a train line which is connected on Broadguage to just one side... Because MP never had enough budget to lay a Boadguage railway line through the ghats beyond Mhow. Imagine the advantages if we could connect Indore on Broadguage to Khandwa / Nagpur.

    2. An Inefficient and Corrupt Local administration : The local administration probably does nothing. Go to the Municipal corporation / PWD or any other govt office during the day and you would know why Indore is in such a pitiable state.

    Why can't Indore have govt. run public transport ? Why are we left to the mercy of the "Nagar Sevas" whom people call "Yamdoot".In an attempt to pick passengers,these "yamdoots" surely have created an impressive track record of killing people on streets.


    2.1. The concept of town planning just doesn't exist.I'm shocked to see new roads with a width of 20 feet being laid in new colonies. Would these be able to take the load of traffic after 20 or 50 years? The Rajkumar mill "flyover" is probably the most absurd design of flyover ever built. It is so damn narrow,that it should rather be called "puliya" and not a flyover.. and then they've almost made a cross road on the flyover. So what was the purpose of the flyover ? You are still congesting the traffic... in fact more than before. After 6 years of construction,and crores of ruppes spent.. this is what we get ! Compare this to 17 flyovers in Mumbai (in 1 year) and Dozens of them in Hyderabad, and you would have a clear picture of the how efficient is our administration . There is complete lacking of a "vision".. how a city should be.

    New complexes are growing like Mushrooms, and the Munic. Corp approves their designs without even considering the most important factor : Parking space ! Huge complexes like Apollo Tower, Anand Bazar and dozens more on MG road are just a few prominent examples.I really wonder what the Town planners do.I've seen Multi Storeys being constructed in plots of 30' X 40'. This is ridiculous !

    2.2. The Private colonisers are causing Havoc by illegal construction. Suprisingly none of this is ever noticed by the administration. The Raj Tower incident is a classic example. What was the Municipal corp doing till a Mall of 40 crores ,spanning over 1 lack Sq. feet was being constructed .How come they didn't notice it for 2 years ? And the decision to demolish it was absurd. Why couldn't it be confistcated and used as a govt. office ?

    2.2. The local police also leaves a lot to be desired.Especially in the matters of Traffic regulation.It seems that the Policemen lack a basic sense of duty and are happy to sit on the the chairs and see people breaking traffic laws. Lane Cutting, Driving in the wrong lane (or mostly on the wrong side altogether) are common here.

    3. Ignorant (and complacent !) population : Indorians lack a basic sense of civic sense, responsibility and self regulation. I'm amused to see how they take pride in breaking traffic laws, encroaching on roads,Parking illegally, destroying public parks. The "chalta hai" attitude is the killer.They'll collect all the trash from home,and happily throw it on the street.. without giving a second thought. Probably lack of good education is the biggest factor ! The University is also a classic story.. which floats new courses on its own without even consulting AICTE or UGC. Amazing ! No wonder we have a handful of companies visiting the campuses and picking less than 300 students every year.

    Presence of a big Marwari or Bania community is not really the factor.Ofcourse we have many Jains, Agrawals and Goyals working at high positions in the corporate world.The community's attitude matters to some extent, but it is the individual's thiking which makes a difference.

    4.Politics: MP is not lagging behind from UP and Bihar. We can also boast of Criminal politicians. Hurray !
    Track down any illegal business / construction and it invariably belongs to One of these politicians or their relatives. The administration then decides to ignore them, and they just go on.. unquestioned and with complete disregard to any regulations.Land-Mafia is one of the favorite businesses of these gentlemen.

    In the end, I would like to highlight one very positive thing that's happening at Indore. Indore is becoming a great place for Medical facilities. With biggies like Bombay hospital and CHL Apollo, I'm sure Indore can look forward to be a hub of medical firms and hospitals.


    Though these factors might not seem closely related, but the cumulative effect is BIG.Acting together, they are chocking the city.. suffocating the honest, educated citizen. As long as the citizens are not aware of their rights, duties and responsibilties , it is tough for Indore to become any better.The "Chalta hai", "aisa hi hai" attitude must go.I would like to do more than posting blogs on Indore. But, I'm clueless on what I can do. And I just hope a postive change happens , else all the "bunties" and "bablies" would ultimately leave the city and move on to places where they can find a job.. and to lead a better life.. just as I did.. and most of you as well.Though I would like to go back to home and live there, it looks tough..quite tough !

    ReplyDelete
  38. i am not a regular reader of ur blog.read about my own city ...u had some good observations ,some bad too...
    i differ with some of your view..
    1. first of all most of the big institutes are situated on outskirts of the cities . iim indore not so old and when government nowadays cant give such huge area of land to any college in the center of the city..so think iim's location is preety much justified.otherwise it would not have been possible to provide such good infrastructure...i am student of SYMBIOSIS and my campus is situated 17 kms from city does tha make symbi out of the city..
    2. can u find out how many mumbai students make it to IIM .. i am preety much sure mumbai contribution to IIT and IIM strenght is very negligible...it depends on the kind of exposure and yes your tipping point thing too...anyways every year almost 2500 student appear in CAT from indore and 20 ( appx) make it to IIMs not bad..and yes making it to cat is not the only crieteria of judging english.. i had friends whose english was better than students of your alma mater IIM A...students making it to IIMs not all of them are from big towns ..a lot of tyhem are from small towns like indore...
    3. correct your facts...PIZZA HUT was never there( this was not expected from an IIMA Alumni) and yes DOMINOS was shut down because not only the indore ppl but many indian do not find PIZZA a good value proposition....you pay 200 and what u get... i can show u places in indore where u can eat LAAJAWAAB food in not more than 150 rupees.. the whole concept of fast food is simply not indian..its not in our habit , our culture.so no blaming indore plzzzzzz.. remember the kellogs case study that u did in IIMA...PIZZAs may be doing good businees in metro because of population over there has more exposure to such things ... remember "EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD AGGREGATES AROUND VALUE"..If dominos failed then its not coz of the indori ppl ..they were simply not offering the value to the local customer..brush up your fundas dear...
    3.the bindi thing ..it is there in mumbia, delhi and each and every part of india ...but indore is quite safe ( relatively)...
    4. GF/BF Thing ...i have studied till my graduation in indore...atleast one nightstands , rape in public places by police officials like mumbai are not so rampant..girls and boyz fall in love with each other just as they do in bombay..it is not city specific ...LUCKY is simply not LUCKY enough to have a GF..
    4. Talk about bombay...bombay is one the filthiest place sof india...we are born to live a life in atleast good way...bombay does not give that opportunity...you earn 80k or 2k u travel by same train in which u dont have place to stand and u breathe under the arm pits of others...the infrastructure is simply crumbling...give indore good roads , a decent airport and see its rise....
    yes i would like to go back to my town where there is life and you are at peace.....

    ReplyDelete
  39. A very good description of a small city by class defination. Takes you back to the small cities that you know of. The middle-class is still very much alive there as it is in most parts of Mumbai which can be noted from their quality/price consciousness over brand consciousness and many other characteristics.

    ReplyDelete
  40. "The important difference between chhota and bada sheher is that in metros women can choose to be far more socially and economically independent. They may, of course, choose not to exercise that option but that option exists."

    I am a girl, I m Indorian and I belong to a Marwadi Agrawal family.

    And I believe that U didn't see the endless (medium and small) business units run by women in 'chchota sheher' Indore and U could not see the number of ladies driving their own two wheelers, late in the night, not fearing about impolite people, rapes, and other crimes.

    You havent seen numerous girl students sent to indore for studying not only because the city provides them ample educational oppotunities, but also because it is relatively safe.

    I believe this post is a case of poor generalization.

    ReplyDelete
  41. HeHe..eheh

    OOh Rashmi (sigh).. it seems you aint got good company in Indore.

    Next time you are here find someone who could take you out to Critical Mass ( going to be renamed ) in Hotel Sayaji. Get to know what "music" and "Hep Crowd" is !!

    Volcano, e=mc2 , Kins ( reopening ) have crowds drooling on weekends. All this for prices that Mumbaiites and Delhiites cannot even dream of. ( My Indorean spirit at play here ).

    Did you also know Indore was ranked amongst the top 20 cities by the virtue of average expenditure per family (HPI)?

    hmm.. u said IIM - I is only technically a part of Indore. Seems like you are jealous of Mumbai not having one ..aaan.

    Next time look for a guy like me ( SCORES OF THEM ) who could show u the real face of INDORE.

    Anyways...the things that you observed surely form the general feelings in Middle Class of any Indian City.

    ReplyDelete
  42. MISSED TO MENTION EARLIER..I have been in DELHI for close to 2 years and in Mumbai for more than an year .. SO I am a " Been there and done that " sorta person and A PROUD INDOREAN.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Proud to be an INDOREAN. Nice Article

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  44. Dear Rashmi looks like u still need to know ur country better.for India is a lot more than most would know it staying in the metros.however my dear fellow indoreans if we need to pride in the fact that our town is great place a lot of work needs to be done cause with the progress come greater responsibilities.

    Well, Rashmi for u its just one piece of advice life in every place on earth comes with its own set of pros n cons...its all about what lists on ones priority list.
    what say!but one thing is for sure got know ur country better.

    see u have a nice day.

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  45. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Quiet A Post Rashmi,

    I was born in Indore in 83, Did my lower standards in Choithram. Spent Initial Year Or More & Often Visits In Indore & Since 89 I've Been In Delhi, Visited that place a couple of times in between

    The Memories I Have Are Either Of
    1.) Childhood Days,
    2.) Grandparent Stories ( Who Themselves Are In Delhi Since 88)
    3.) Media/ Newspaper..

    I remember the food
    1.) "Poonha with Sev"
    2.) "French Toast"
    3.) "Mutka Kulfi"

    But I Think Indore has much more potential which but I don't know why the people in Indore have decided to close the doors, I remember & also from the stories I hear from my folks & grandparents the whole place was so destined to be trendy that was 1970 - 1980. There was this yankiness & cosmopolitan nature in the air. It was perhaps everything Delhi & Mumbai was atleast in terms of future. But suddenly it all seems its the city I don't know, or perhaps the whole "cultural/tradtional/orthodox" talk gives me claustrophobia & make me paranoid . I dont mean being cultural is out or not fashionable, it is totaly yanky, its just the "orthodoxy/fundamentalism" that sounds so "hollow & unequalitarian & hypocritical" that scares people away . I don't know being a Delhiete, people in delhi are in delima about carrying the burden of legacy ( most of it painfull, the remanents of partition, migration , 84 riots, the strugle to come up) ahead & they have been quiet successfull by moving ahead, though they still havent forgotten their roots , roots still remain. The some of the media news about Indore like Hindu fundamentalist attacks on Valentines day, destroying an array of franchaise ( some pizza joint , archies ) keeps me away.

    As far as Madvadi's are concerned I mean even punjabis at times seem equally tradtional but what I have seen is punjabi's on other hand have been flexible & not take down by some society experiment gone haywire. that doesn't make em great , its just that the whole flexibility dynamic thing clicked for them, but again that came at cost , it camas a result of a religious/ social renaissance. The tradionality of Madvadi's is beautiful ( Madvadi Dressup, the shadi's , the food, the whole family thing), but if it becomes a reason to be fundamentalist/orthodox defy to change ( eveyone has to evlove , no one has a choice, its the rule of the nature, In what manner it depends on you, With Ease or with struggle it depends on you) might just kill the whole essence.

    But I geuss its gotta do more with the geography of indore than its people. MP has been the literarily backward places, even though it has quiet a decent Educational Infra, though not taken & marketed carefully anyhow fundamental societies in cities like Jabalpur & Bhopal might have attributed to what Indore is now.

    - Indore even had a stock exchange once
    - Choithram hospital was one of the first places to have cancer treatment Nuclear Camera's in - The country, I know cause My Dad was working on it.
    - The mills in Indore had an excellent array of computing machines in india considering that era.
    - It even has some Nuclear research facility.
    - It has a IIM but I don't think it has any radical influence on the society anyways.

    What I think need to be done in Indore is :
    - Unbaised Education. Good Education Infrastructure.
    - Culture/Heritage Marketing.
    - Irradication of Fundamentalist/Orthodox Forces.
    - Status Of Metropolitan.
    - Perservance Of Heritage.
    - Aforestation To Restore Green ( Pollution in Indore Is Killing )
    - Improvement & Standarisation ( Planned ) Infrstructure, More Of Township than some isolated multi storey apparmtents.

    To add a bit more I think the whole thing can be taken in stride in more sport spirited manner accepted atleast for validation of truth. Why is there so ademant not to change, not to listen to what someone says, do some soul searching & be truhtfull to your self rather than telling the world we are perfect we are so good, we are the best, let the world make an opinion , empower yourself to be the best so that others say it rather than you yourself boasting about about your greatness, which actually may be not true. As far as India is concerned nobody says Delhi & mumbai & ... represent India... the context of the whole discussion was can Indor Be Another true cosmopolitan metropolitan city or not.

    No one would actually justify orthodoxy/fundamentalism what ever it may be in religion, culture, business, technology being stagnant in name of tradation.Think for your childeren , generations ahead are they gonna praise the decisions you making right now or are they gonna curse you. Be visionary enough to see where you'll be 10 -20 years from now rather than where you are now. Accept Evolution Gracefully.

    I wish Indore was the same place I knew or perhaps interpreted it was as a kid.

    ReplyDelete
  47. hey rashmi
    it was kewl method of converting your daily experiences &grievance agnst your ppl &town in a funky way ,anway if india still didnt had that type perspective saas,we would have crossed the western genre of bahu's &babi's &i appreciate the town of indore for its betterness than my place hyderabad, is like kuch bhi dho hazam karloonga,whatever you want you can put into it &they accpet it without soching abt its affect.

    i appreciate budha baby's thoughts hhow conditionally he/she explains the need of the time,but the thing we got to know is what may come we have to be flexi to it but not bend to that stage that we forgot our age old traditions,they have been well designed to fit our lives &give us niche over others.i think i bluttered a lot
    bye cya

    ReplyDelete
  48. he he he ha ha ha!

    way to go!

    what a wonderful way to offend a large portion of the indian community!
    comments more interesting than the post itself! :)

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  49. Bull shit arguments. some dumb ass lucky and god knows how many more asses have contributed to this lady's horrific mindset and lil knowldge is always dangerous.. and gets to disastrous propositions if u try a resarch thesis on a subject your GPA has been anything but average...

    "adjal gagri chalkat jaye"

    Bekar ke log hamare shahr ke baare mein resrach kar jaye.. ha ha.. cmon gimme a break..

    no hard feelings, but dont really appreciate my home town being called all the stuff which it really aint it.. and just FYI indore has a mall,three mc'donald's, 3 multiplexes, baristas,ccd's,jefferies,3 pubs, pvr's,inox's,globus, lee and levis show rooms along with reebok, nike , adidas, pizza hut never came to indore. right.. go take a hike now

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  50. Hey ...
    whatever anybody says i love indore ...i am from delhi but studied in indore for my grad/post grad and ended up marrying an 'Indori'... Indore is the place in the world where i wanna live ..everycity has pros and cons but i somehow see more pros in indore than any other city

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  51. Any of you who needs more information about indore city may visit the best portal of indore - www.indore360.com

    ReplyDelete
  52. hi rashmi...
    may be u r thnking tht u had done agrt job through ur critics..bt let me remind u its very easy to abuse ten to apriciate..ok nw tell me wht u hav contributed in ur city..did wearing jeans nt wearing bidis makes a city modern..it wasnt u it was the sys which hd groomed it n u simply lived in it...abt money y saving is bad n y one shud follow ur atitude ki kya fark padhta hi pizza 100 ka ho ya 200 ka...u hav ur stile of living they had there...yaar tum to ji nahi pati hogi ye soch soch ke mai kaha hun america kaha hai wo nude ghum rahe hain mi kapdo mai...wo dollors khrch kar rahe hain mai 1000 kya yaar mai kitni giri hui hun..bapre this thought may be horrifying fr u...n wht abt ur cellphones ur laptops ur life stile nething does tht resemble america..shit man nothing..n ofcourse ur food same chicken same panneer how boaring it shud be pork(pig) in my meal so ten i can be called bade log frm bade desh...kahe ko yaar apne hi desh ko badnaam kar rahe ho..dusre ko nicha dikahne se pahale khud bhi niche..ho dekh lia karo..aur ye jo standards hain tumhare chote bade ke tum tak hi rakho..kahi aur analysis karo jaha koi sense nikle yaha mat karo..aur han apni mother in law ke aage jo thikh lage so wo phnana jitna lage utna pahanna aur na lage to na sahi..bhai aap bade shahr ki hain..malls mai ja skti hain...paisa khrch kr skti hain...kuch bhi kar skti hain..keep urself cntroled else there r mny ho cn lose there out of ur cntrol..
    bbye
    tkcr

    ReplyDelete
  53. n dear face the reality by deleting comments u cnt change the thing.. be a sport...jb tum likhke logo ko padhwa skti ho to log bhi likhke tumhe aur sbko pdhwa skte hain..

    ReplyDelete
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  55. ^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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  56. I really don't know why are people getting so defensive about being from small towns? I have never been to indore, but could identify with what she said beause my in laws live in another baniya dominated small town jaipur. I like that fact that rashmi is a feminist but don't think she is prejudiced. All she has said is that small towns don't offer women that much choice. Bindi, saree or in fact any thing else is cool as long as its not forced upon you. Maadonna was never forced to wear a bindi, now was she? The problem in a lot of small towns is that women can't do what they want to because they or their families fear "log kya kahenge?" The anonymity and fast pace of life of a big town on the other hand offers that freedom. Often in many baniya families a daughter in law isn't given a choice in terms of her attire, more so in small towns. Though the laid back pace of life and relative safety are advantages that small towns do offer. All rashmi wrote about were her own impressions...and a lot of small town people often lament about the fast pace of life, lack of safety and coldness and insenstivity of a big city as well...it's nothing to get offended about...they are facts just as the conservative attitude of small towns is fact!
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