My hand twitches every time I write the word ‘Belagavi’ but if I don’t, the admin of this site auto corrects me by using the Ctrl+H tab. So I do it nonetheless. But it doesn’t stop me from putting down what is generally observed of the residents of Belagavi- nonchalance. Warm-hearted, yes. But with little ambition and still less zeal for a full life. What use all the good weather, the fertile soil and the intelligent brains if it is not put to good use?
A good school is rejected because it is 7 km away from the home. Elsewhere, it would have been a luxury. But with little or no public transport, it is a valid reason.
There are no change-makers in our politicians because we don’t expect them to be. We are not a demanding electorate. We’re happy when they submit a memorandum or show up at opportune times.
The city prides of thousands of assembly-line engineers and other graduates sweating it out in Bengaluru, Pune or abroad, but very few exceptional sportspersons, musicians, civil servants, mountaineers, artists, stand-up comics, cartoonists, and trainers. Talk about pursuits of excellence?
We have gotten used to saying ‘It’s alright’ when there’s water for just 72 days in a year when the city bus doesn’t turn up, when the roads break our back and also when the kids don’t study and take up ordinary jobs. It’s not alright. Give your best. Expect the best.
Buying books, reading them and discussing is almost non-existent. Even libraries are frequented by the elderly because there’s nothing else to do and the only place to meet friends. Chat up with a few random school goers and you’ll be shocked at their general knowledge or the lack of it. Belagavi kids smarten up after they move out to the bigger cities. While they’re here, they just study and grow in age. Don’t mistake me if I make a statement that Belagavi kids ask very few questions. I can prove that to you.
Those in their forties, now, don’t see a place to hang out with their friends. All the good places seem to have been taken up by the young (the hotels) or the old (the parks).
The young ones around colleges always look cautious and apologetic. As if someone known will catch them hanging around and inform the parents. That’s the problem with small towns, where everyone knows your grandma’s father.
No one has a proper place to hang out. Just the eateries, the lone mall or the college katta. So they first spend hours deciding where to go, then reject everything and end up sitting on bikes and chatting cluelessly.
Housewives in Shahapur spend their evenings banging across each other in the crowded market, bang some more on the narrow tracks at Shivaji Garden or if you hate both, just sit on your doorstep and make small talk about everything unimportant in this world.
If you’re in Tilakwadi, the residents hang around their gates looking nonchalantly at everybody, as if not sure whether they belong to the house inside or feeling left out of the world outside.
Hang around at the bus stops and listen intensely to the conversation happening there. After a few minutes, you’ll feel clueless about what the kids, the girls and the boys, the old women and the young ones with a kid at hand or perched on the hips, speak.
The only hobby that is pursued after school hours is homework. OK, if one really wanted to learn calligraphy, quilt making, Puppetry, learn Japanese, play the Sarod or draw cartoons, where do I find the classes, who will drop me and bring me, what about the fees? And yes, will that give me a job?
Spending on looking good ends at a gaudy coloured fancy (almost floral) dress or a routine eyebrow and facial. Overgrown hair and stubble on college going boys and dads carrying kids on bikes to school is like an epidemic. Nothing wrong in sporting braids, but paired with jhumkas on a college pant- suit uniform? Seriously? Whatever happened to spunk and pizzazz, the buzzword that is the hallmark of youth?
The world today swears by the ‘Make all you can, save all you can and give all you can’. But we just replace it with ‘as little as you can’. Tickets for a play? Give me a free one. Pay for charity? Oh! No. Violin classes for a fee? Free, please.
I know there will be exceptions to everything that I rue. But a city will thrive and grow and prosper only when the people will push their limits. Only when we will stop celebrating mediocrity and ordinariness and bring out the best in everybody and not be happy with exceptions. I want to see a Belagavi that bursts with life. People who use all the time saved in commuting to pursue hobbies. Young ones discussing meaningful art, films, sports, and technology. Middle-aged men and women putting their best ability and time to earn more. The elderly using valuable time at hand to volunteer. A society that thrives on sharing ideas, a community that stimulates pursuits of excellence in sports, art, music, dance, drama, education and a city living a full life.