Belagavi, Belgaum or whatever you call it, is just like any other sleepy town. We don’t have many luxuries, we don’t have many big malls but yes we have our ways of enjoying. We have abundant natural hot spots that seem better than most amusement parks. One thing however that Belagavi has is a strong social fabric. Belagavi is the exact opposite of social distancing, even if we want to buy a TV at home we are used to gathering a crowd.
We love to socialize and we have our own places where we do that, the rich meet at elite locations like Desur golf course where all the troubled elite find relief from their wives at least on Sundays while their wives gossip at the club and plan the next week’s torture for their poor innocent husbands.
The middle class has Big Bazaar, More and D Mart, and since this class works all week long, the Sundays are the only time that wives replace their bosses to torture them. The not so fortunate actually work even on Sundays but money had nothing to do with socializing, we socialize everywhere, Galli me, bus stop pe, hair cut pe, chai ke gadi pe and office ke andar, the world is meant to socialize.
The gist of it is that we all love to socialize for our own reasons. We are so addicted to socializing that we just stop someone in the road saying kai be or yeen le and within five minutes we have a crowd of five discussing nothing, five minutes into the congregation and we have the quasi essential chai to liven the spirits.
Speaking of spirits, well that comes into play in the latter part of the day when the gharguti is ready. In Belagavi we don’t say please come “let’s have a drink ” and so on, that is not nice, we just say “basuya chala”, or “yelli kutkolonu” and it is understood that it’s a party.
Then there is a choice of non-veg gharguti, sawji, chuli warcha, kala, tamda pandhra, Surekha, Manisha ( names of hotels).
This is what can get any Belgaumite to party, and then, discuss his small yet life taking problems with his friends and stay away from constant bickering of wives and bosses.
In Belagavi even our children socialize, they don’t like to play cards, chess, board games, that’s so down market, children play hide and seek, football, cricket, gilli dandu, catch and so on, having a playgroup of less than three is lame.
With this background, we have to see what is happening in this socializers paradise today. Corona was like a death nail for Belagavi, the social life is already hammered by the smart roads, it is so difficult to go from Bogarwes to Tilakwadi Club that by the time you reach, the spirits are gone and Badiwales chops are over. The lockdown has cost us a lot and social distancing had broken our backs. We can live without food, without money but we need to gossip, we need to have the tea with friends, we need to discuss international relations at Vaishali bar, where will we go.
The most affected are doctors like me, we are used to socializing with our patients. Now it is emergencies only. Patients come to us with a description of their symptoms, they tell us about fever, chest pain, describe the consistency and frequency of their stools to start with that is and then we move on to talking about their troublesome children, their wives culinary skills, their husbands snoring, come expect doctors to be matchmakers too.
Doctor “please see if you find someone eligible “, and yes we Belagavi doctors never refuse the requests. In return apart from the fees, we get fresh fruits, vegetables, groundnuts and sometimes imported chocolates too. It’s just like an extended family and we doctors miss our patients.
So what are we doing, we are reading, we are getting picked by spouses, we are making videos for AAB and living a lay mans life, sitting at home, eating in time, sleeping early, seeing our own kids, this is taking our lives, we are just not used to do this.
The second category effected is the shop keepers, my dad types, AAB Uday types. The new generation may not know but in Belagavi our shop keepers know just what we want, you go to your grocery guy he knows which oil you fry your fritters in, which rice you prefer, which toilet cleaner and soap you use, your chai patti wala knows what’s your preferred mix, your pharmacist knows what insulin your dad takes. The shopping malls, the departmental stores, the multi chains can never satisfy a true Belgaumite it’s for outsiders who don’t know any personal shopkeeper.
The shopkeepers open early and close late so they seldom are recognized in their own homes. Social distancing does not bother them because of the drop in sales, they just don’t know what to do at home.
I heard a few on them wear their shop wala clothes every day sit at home and count some cash before they change into their residential attire so they don’t lose the practice of accounts. The grocers are weighing everything at home so that the weighing machines don’t need to be serviced, some are counting the grains per kilo. Gossip in Belagavi is driven by shop keepers and now there is no broadcast.
Housewives sorry homemakers are effected too, you see you can nag your husbands for two-three hours (average women ), call them irresponsible, lazy for an hour, but what after that, you can’t keep cursing him all day. This is what is bothering the poor ladies, now they have to cook, wash, wipe and manage the lousy log on the sofa set, this being complexed by the absence of the saving grace of the house, the angel from God, the maid of the house.
When things were normal, you could finish little work, depute the rest to the maid, send children to school and then do more important things to socialize like gossip with the neighbor wali “wahini” or watch “saas bahu” all day long. Now that there is no time, nothing is possible what do we do with this lock down. Add to this even the soothing beauty parlor is not available, how can one go on like this.
Our future, our next generation, our children are also not happy. The initial euphoria of having being promoted without exams is now over. There is no scope for going out of the house. You know the greatest dividend that we in Belagavi have is the numerous playgrounds to play. Staying at home and entertaining the elders cannot go on indefinitely, at least not in summers.
There are games to play, mangoes to steal, ice cream to be explored and “Mamas gaon” to be visited, all this is gone, what do we do at home. Over this some devil came out with ideas of online classes, this is like having a thirteenth month in a season of drought. Teachers by now would have finished checking their papers and tenth April the results would be out. This year this yearly sacred ritual is no more.
The Chai Walas, the hairstylist, the industry walas, the internet cafe walas, the hotel walas, the summer camp walas, the electronic shop walas all have their own problems, life has come to a grinding halt because of this small Chinese corona. I haven’t written about others because there are two more weeks to go and maybe I can write again.
We are however Indians first, and for a Belgaumite our nation comes before everything else. So we have pledged to give up our social life and be warriors against this Chinese pandemic.