Being in Mangalore takes me back in time, to the days of my childhood. Quietness of the place surrounded by green fields, lots of trees and peacocks wandering in the backyard thankfully look so very untouched by modernization.
While at home during Dasara, I met the youngest daughter of my Muslim neighbors - S. She and I were almost of the same age and studied in the same batch. S was the only child in the house to complete tenth standard. She discontinued studies after that; neither was there much encouragement from the family to continue studies nor was there any self enthusiasm in her (as she told me then). We always discussed our schools and then my college stories. Sometime, while I moved to Bangalore for work, she got married. Since then to now we had not really met. So it was almost after ten years that I saw my friend carrying her second child in her arms by the compound wall that separates our homes. We spoke about the old days and she enquired about my friends since then. I informed her about their current status and how things changed for them and I enquired about some of her friends from school. Our friendship, seemed to me, like it had paused at a time in life and only lingered around that time. It was interesting to notice that some relationships would never grow with time and would remain paused at some point of your life; around the errands of then. However it is always great to meet a long lost friend and catch up with updates and recollect the good old days of the past. I was very happy to have met my friend after a long time and it also made me realize how things had changed for me and my friends from what S had known about us and about her life beyond those days.
It is always nice to live in a small town like Surathkal, with its own advantages and disadvantages. People still value relationships here. When I noticed fungus affecting my painting, I had to go to the carpenter nearby for help. He disassembled the frame and after I had cleaned the painting and given a little touch up he redid the frame. When asked for payment, he just smiled and refused to take any. My mother offers him and his family free dry wood for heating water. When we went to the bank half an hour past the locker timings, the employees did not hesitate to open the locker for us. I wonder if that would happen in Bangalore.
On the other hand small towns that I have left behind dwell still with too much interfering into others lives, interrogations about others personal matters and hunger for status and recognition. There are people who refuse to bring home the ancestrally owned and worshiped idol of God until their elder brothers have died and they receive the respect and status of being the eldest and superior in the family.