I often wonder what makes youngsters of today flock to the cities. A mass exodus appears to be taking place, with the youth making a beeline for the attractions of the metropolis. One valid reason which comes to mind is, of course, job opportunities and the lure of a fast life.
A variety of professions beckon and the temptations of leading an anonymous life are, I'm sure, enormous. Big malls, restaurants, chic markets all captivate their senses and make young people flee to the nearest capital in droves. The fact that to reach a particular place in the city takes almost half a day is of no consequence to them, notwithstanding the constant blaring of horns and cheek-by-jowl driving.
On eventually arriving at the destination, you are probably a bundle of nerves, having barely missed scraping the fender of your new car and been at the receiving end of abuse and imprecations from fellow drivers.
Neighbours in tony localities of big cities have no qualms fighting with each other for parking space and even the most expensive of cars are left to languish on the roads as houses are too small to fit in the 'monsters'! Buildings and apartments crowd the streets and catching a glimpse of foliage is a rarity. Smog, grey skies, crowds and noise pollution are commonplace, with rarely any respite.
I love the languid pace of small towns, the camaraderie of people on the streets, who stop to smile and ask about you and your family. Not for them is the fast-paced city life and the cold, grimace-like smiles exchanged in the elevator on the way to work. Neighbours and friends are genuinely concerned and we have a host of well-wishers sending food, flowers and also stopping by to comfort in case of a crisis or illness.
Shopkeepers know you by name and are anxious to please. Gardens, considered a veritable luxury in big cities, are common and a source of pride in small towns. We labour over them and have time to take pleasure in their exquisiteness and indulge the various animals and birds they host.
Yes, we do not have easy access to fancy malls, grand eateries, exotic breads, bagels and cheese. We are unable to source swanky items at a moment's notice. There is not much choice when it comes to buying flowers and special gifts in our little towns. Eating out is confined to merely two or three small restaurants, with barely any variety in the cuisine.
But that is when the fun begins. You bake a fragrant cake and call friends over for tea; in no time they come, laden with goodies, so the afternoon spills over to a relaxed and languorous sundown. Canasta foursomes are common, with Sundays devoted to them exclusively. Packing gifts at home adds a special touch and people take out time to pen a 'Thank You' note, once in a while.
Easy commuting, a clean and fresh environment, time for friends and family. These are the virtues of life in a small, modest town and I, for one, would not trade it for anything in the world!