It is already almost the middle of Octobr and the weather has again turned languid. We all pride in the fact that Belgaum has cool climate and it’s always pleasant here even during high summers. I have met scores of people of late who have complained of being lethargic because of the weather. No elaboration is necessary to describe how many of us pull ourselves out of beds every morning with difficulty – the cold damp weather, dim-lit atmosphere and an overall drowsy feeling engulfs us. Many nights are spent listening to the pitter patter of the rain while we cancel all plans of venturing out even in the evenings for fear of getting wet. Just the day before Ganesh Chaturthi, Belgaumites who gleefully trotted to the city to make their festive purchases were caught unawares and got thoroughly drenched in the sudden downpour.
If we are going to spend 3 to 4 months in a year in this kind of weather and general dull environment, any wonder then that Belgaum has never been overly ambitious in many ways! Before the critics pounce with their admonishing, let me put a disclaimer – ambitious as compared to the fast growing cities elsewhere in the country. Belgaum has immense talent. Pick any house in the city and the odds of at least one relative working abroad or in the IT sector with a high-paying job are high. Why do people from Belgaum flourish more when they migrate elsewhere? Is the damp weather the culprit or the general lack of a hurried pace that makes us sluggish and hence contentment seeps in? Is it because we’ve had it easy in matters of commuting and housing that we don’t push our limits or is it because of the overall prosperity that allows us to lead a life devoid of pace and pulse and action? Yes, it’s true that many city-breds may envy us for this situation, for they are actually chasing the minute-hand and would give a limb for a laid back life. It’s not about the way of life, it’s more to do with what happens BECAUSE of such an environment that has affected the city’s progress. Don’t you, like me, miss a vibrant art circuit – with numerous art forms to learn and appreciate? Don’t you miss that we don’t have a single institute that would teach us beautiful languages like French and Spanish or German? Don’t you miss that we cannot access areas where we can walk and jog without making way for disturbing traffic? Don’t you miss that there is no Marathon that could motivate us out of our slumber, the way even cities like Beirut and places like Thar and Antarctica do?
I watched the Belgaum lady – Rahee Kulkarni recently on TV and felt proud of what she’s doing in Belgaum, but I did feel queasy for she was introduced as being from Pune by the TV news anchor! When will we, from Belgaum, be role models for the country? Why don’t more Belgaum students think beyond engineering-medicine-CA and of the Civil Services and the NDA or even arts or research? Now don’t bombard me with names of those who have done, it is this that I want to point out- contentment with exceptions being confused for the norm.
Yes, we have Maitrey Kulkarni, but who else? Yes, we have Neeta Baporikar, who else? We have a Malikarjun Jagajampi whose Blackbelt in Karate and the fighting spirit and focus helped him flourish in business.
Who else? It pains because the people of Belgaum definitely have talent, the homes here have raised bright kids who can far out-perform any city kid. The education here could beat any international university and the lack of city-induced stress should have made us better performers in whatever we do. We definitely lack the fighting spirit that is evident even in a normal Mumbai or Delhi guy. If those cities, with all the muck and the hassles can produce immense talent at the national and international level, why can’t we? Show me one college student with that killer ambition, putting in hard work and striving to achieve his dream and I’ll show you ten whose idea of success is ‘any job’. The climate won’t change, nor will the political will strengthen. What is needed is a big positive impetus from the parents and teachers- to dream big, to show that every dream is possible with hard work and focused efforts, that we need to be curious and speak more and work harder to make up for what the city lacks. Contentment can come later – when we have achieved enough to look back and proudly gaze into the TV camera and say – Belgaum made me!
About the Author: Swatee Jog teaches at Bharatesh Global Business School, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT and DNA and she has also authored two books which are being published, one on management and one science book for kids.