Urban! The word is supposed to mean – Construction, tall glass and steel towers, intricate mazes of roads, thousands of people moving purposefully on sidewalks, pretty cafes and scintillating signboards, subways and fancy cars. Beautifully trimmed shop windows and traffic lights
Sadly, Urban! also often means a shabby concrete jungle, open drains. Beggars on crowded traffic lights, mad rush for the metro. Tall plush buildings overlooking slums made of tarpaulin huts. Rows of buckets when the evening tanker arrives. Power cuts and water shortage.
The people who live in these slums. The first generation to leave their farmlands and pasturing behind. With hopes of a better more urban existence. Those, who still speak their native language . Look at city women in their ‘men like clothes’ with surprise . The ones who have packed their everything from the land of their ancestors. Making the long expensive journey top this promising land. Burning all bridges that may take them back to their farmlands. The ones with no hope of return. What do they think of this strange land? The “city”.
What should we call them? These people – villagers living in urban lands – caught on its fringes, responsible for making it run but always hanging at its periphery – never fully a part of it and yet its very heart and soul.
And when and how , does the equation change. When, if ever do they cease to be outsiders and become ‘urban’ themselves. Like the land they live in.
Also check out these entries on the “urban” theme: