Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Namaskaram or Hello? Appa or Dad? Old or new? - I am no American - Born Confused Desi(ABCD), but an ordinary person who now thinks twice before speaking as I no longer hail from a tiny village called Varapuzha in the suburbs of Kerala but from the very same town which is in the throes of modernization.Though many exalt modernization, I have begun to dislike it as it is making the familiar seem unfamiliar. Gone are the days when I knew my hometown like the palm of my hand; now I feel I'm an alien in my own land.

Varapuzha, in the bygone years, was associated with many sights which can now probably be relived only in the images on my computer. Ferry rides around the island of Varapuzha were definitely the USP of my childhood; but now they are nearly obsolete. The bridges constructed to facilitate transport ate into the livelihood of the ferry companies so much that many have closed shop. It would be surprising to find people walking to their nearest destination as they rather prefer burning fuel. Men are no longer content with a bike or a car and luxury cars zipping by on the narrow roads have become a common sight.

Kaakan uncle who sold me mixture for Rs.5 everyday doesn't own a grocery store now thanks to all the super-markets springing up at every corner. He succumbed to the competition. Mariamma chetathi, who is 85 years old, no longer wears the traditional "chatta"and "mundu" as her children think it is a disgrace. Little Ruben plays by himself as all the other children are glued to their video games' set. The Matthews stay alone as their children and grand-children detest the place and prefer the pace of city life. Gardens are unkempt,weeds are overgrown and there is no one to pluck coconuts as the men who did such menial jobs have now shifted to more lucrative options or demand exorbitant wages. Many classrooms in the local school remain closed for lack of students and teachers as they all prefer schools in the city. Generations of families have moved because they were attracted to the concept of a "better" life in the ciity like fireflies to light.

Modernization or Urbanization is the order of the day and we cannot turn a blind eye to all the benefits that it has brought in. Levels of education have improved, there are better public amenities available, there are better employment opportunities yet at the same time, it is modernization that has introduced Chivas Regal(brand of alcohol), marijuana and the like and initiated the disgraceful race to be better than the rest. All that leaves us pondering as to where we are headed.

Modernization - for the better or for worse? - I do not have a concrete answer to that and there maybe innumerable opinions. At the end of the day, all of us want to belong to a developed nation and want to be well-placed in life and we may wonder, if moderization is the key to that dream, then why not?. The end need not always justify the means; it is wise to be certain that modernization does not leave us facing a new dilemma - IDENTITIY OR (H)IDENTITY?