How do you define a small town? And what if that town is in Bihar?
The general description starts with narrow roads crowded with stalls of panipuri wala and chaat wala; ocean of people on road with cycles and motorcycles making their way among them; stray animals feeding on garbage; big hoardings of schools, colleges and coaching institutes with faces of students who seem to have jumped out of ramp at Wills Lifestyle to study at these institutes. Though if the hoarding is of any coaching institute, it will have faces of successful students in JEE/PMT whose photos are collected by luring them for free study materials 2-3 months before exams.
But these small towns have much more than these descriptions. Small town has big dreams. Small town parents of today or youths of 90's have grown up watching luxuries of engineers and doctors. They suffer with power cuts of 16 hours a day and they have heard about the round the clock power supply in metros. They have suffered due to rickety infrastructure and have watched world class things in big cities. Television has offered them a peek of upper class lifestyle and they are bored of their same day to day life which they have been carrying over decades. They want parks and my town has none which qualifies to be one. They want to take out their family on weekends but alas! my town has no place to offer where you can go. (My town has population of around 3 lakh) They have stopped visting their friend's home because they have pretty much same issue to cry upon. They complain of poor medical facillities and are awed by comfort of Delhi Metro.
So, what to do?
"I have enough of this life, my son will not have the same life" And they found a easy way out.
Stop! Small town is more than mere dreaming. They offer ambition. They have watched Dhoni rise from neighborhood school, "DAV, Shyamli", to bright neon lit Pepsi hoardings at every sweet shop. Dhoni lives his dreams with big bikes like Harleys around. Small town kids are also fond of bikes. "So if Dhoni can, why can’t we?"
Movies have stopped being common to them. They show malls, frequent flyer hero and an alien open society where boys and girls freely roam around together. Startups are new hot today. They also want to start a company. Tata-Birla are old now; Osama-Gyanesh are new cool.
But where is the way?
Study! What else!
These kids are not scared of labor. They wake up all night to cram diversification in living beings and cracking down H.C Verma. Parents send their children just after class 10 to coaching factories at Kota, Bokaro, Ranchi, Delhi or Hyderabad. I name these palces because my friends went there. 17 years old teens who have not even washed their cloth at home are sent to study far off places.
As one of my friends recalled his journey to kota,"jab gadi station se khulti thi, aisa lagta tha mano sab kuch khatm ho gaya,, main pure raste ek shabd nahi bolta tha..chup chap baitha rehta tha"
I went to Bokaro but i was lucky to have some of the best people on the earth around me. Those friends are real gems. These littile prince of their home are subjected to pressure treatment their which surely makes them hard enough to take on the world. Consider 12 lakh people appearing for 40,000 "good" engineering seats. 4 lakh students sit for 4000 medical seats. This pressure of intense competition, combined with pressure of worst tiffin food, super imposing landlords and contaminated water make their battle even tougher. Wait! then ghar ka yaad is the final nail on the coffin. I had fight with my roommate and even we didn’t talk for weeks. Now, i laugh at them. But that was what you expect from a 17 years old to do.
Small town does not offer many options. Either you pass or you fail. For now, small towns have either engineering or medical. Kids are often reminded that they have nothing back home; so they have to do the best at whatever cost it comes.
Small town is so different from big town.
In small town jo jeeta wahi sikandar. Someone ought to change the slogan