There is not much I can say for life in a small town. Particularly, if you happen to have lived your life in a bustling megapolis. Despite (or maybe it is because) all the symtpoms of decay – the large masses of humanity stuck together in spaces barely fit for a fifth, the 1500 square feet apartments (spacious they say), the daily evening maze of CO2 and sand dust, the automobiles bumper to bumper refusing to give an inch, the buses bursting at their seams, the unemotional efficiency and quality of the supermarket, the garbage that decays all around the clean apartments, the incessant pile up of entertainment goods and trivia – there is some unknown vaguely defined co-efficient that makes all of these irrelevant.
I grew up in a small town, some of my values are distinctly small-townish, but I have lived the better part of the past decade in large cities. So much so, that I now find myself hardpressed to accept the desultory and mundane nature of small town life with equanimity.
In a sense, the remarkable achievement of cities lies in their ability to transmit a sense of purpose, however superficial or simplistic, to your life. Small towns are not so indulgent. They let you be. In small towns, you have to go hunt for that sense of purpose yourself. You have to burrow deep and hard, no organization or group of people shall think for you, and thereby absolve you of that responsibility. There are no readymade careers to be made here, no visible milestones that give you a sense of direction. The truth is, even for those who think, there is very little choice. For every 100 who have given some thought to the idea of purpose, maybe one will find a somewhat satisfying answer.
Should it be any surprise then that ambitious people have to migrate to places teeming with humanity – cities that thrive on discontent, and yet refuse to go moribund. Paradoxically, the cruel irony is that the success of the city depends as much on the celebration of successes of the few who make it, as to the acceptance of failures by a large majority of its ambitious citizens.