Sunday, December 18, 2011

Comparing a Saudi town to an Indian town

In the past one month of my stay in Al Muweh, which I have classified as a small town, I have come to realise the similarities between a typical North Indian village and Al Muweh, which, after thinking about it, gets re-classified into a village rather than a town. Let me explain how this change came about.

As my in-laws are from Punjab, I have been to the villages there; you will see similar pucca houses, wide roads, lots of cars and SUVs, dusty side roads, young boys huddled on the road sides with gossip, cigarettes and even traditional string toys, adolescents driving cars, a single main road with typical shops selling provisions, dhabas, tea stalls, welding shops, small supermarkets, vehicular service stations and petrol pumps.

As there are similarities, there are differences too, of course: the roads in India are not as well maintained, the children are not as well clad, the shops are more grungy and dirty, the houses are often just on the ground floor or with one additional floor (instead of the two or three floors seen here), the cars are old and often noisy (here the cars are often new and of different brands), the atmosphere is free and not punctuated by silences when everyone rushes to the mosques for namaaz, the street-lights are not as flashy, water is not scarce (which is the case here), the schools are not well maintained (here, they are clean, big and well-maintained), and the trees and birds are more plentiful (here, you see just acacia bushes and a few hardy plants, along with sparrows).

A few of the features resemble that of the villages of a deserty place like Rajasthan. As my friend Dr. Narendra tells me, the villages there are similarly barren, dusty, hot in the day-time and cold in the night-time, and people are prone to remain dirty and not take daily baths!

This realisation has refreshed me somewhat, and I look forward to discovering more similarities/differences in the place I live in, vis-a-vis Indian places. If you, dear reader, have some comments on this issue, do share them here. I intend to discuss the local people's attitudes too, but I have to tread softly on that one, right?

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