In today’s world, we choose to live where we work, not where we ‘belong’. I say this as I return from Goa, the land where my father grew up but I never had the fortune to live in and fully experience as a child. As I grow older, however, I am drawn to Goa for the sheer sense of belonging and connection I feel when I am there.
Now accustomed to a metro life, I cannot say with certainty if I will be able to adjust to actually living Goa’s laid back lifestyle and honouring the highly intertwined social and family commitments that I will be a part of were I to make the move. I do, however, increasingly feel the need to move away from the stresses of city life. The unnecessary chaos, noise and hurtling pace we set for ourselves in the Delhis, Mumbais, Bangalores of this world. I keenly observe the degrading quality of life in the city I live in (Gurgaon, which despite being a suburb, is every bit as chaotic and fast-paced as Delhi, sans the character and other saving graces!). No longer do city dwellers have the right to fresh air, fresh vegetables, greenery, space to walk in, silence and peace, etc, etc. We must embrace the noise, the pollution, the stale fruits and the high prices in the attitude of a city lover. We must convince ourselves that the trade offs are worth the price we pay- better options for education and entertainment, for instance. And certainly better jobs with better pay packets.
I don’t buy the argument though, trapped as I am in the same vicious cycles as everyone else. Each time I go back to Goa, I yearn for the simplicity of living in my hometown, surrounded by people I know and love and a culture I sort-of understand. I envy m y cousins who, at least at this point in time, can experience a high quality of life with the unique benefits of a community that retains its rural ambience while being able to access urban amenities, with good governance as an added benefit.
But most of all, I miss living in a community where I feel I belong, where I don’t need to make so much effort to form a connection, where I am not a nameless faceless dot in a sea of struggling humans, but me, Mukta Naik, daughter of so-and-so, mother of so-and-so, niece of so-and-so…… Many may seek and thrive in the anonymity that large cities offer and till recently, so did I. Lately though, I’ve started to yearn for the simpler things in life and appreciate what life in a more traditional milieu offers! A sense of
belonging, continuity, identity are important factors we are tending to ignore, even as our sub-conscious struggles to come to terms with our environment and seek anchors in a vaccuum. I may not be able to move to Goa today. But going there every year reminds me of my need for identity. Thank you Ajji, uncles and aunts, cousins and friends in Goa for keeping me connected, rooted and happy 🙂