To Be and to Belong | Milaap

To Be and to Belong

Written by our fellow, Akanksha who is working closely with our field partner, WSDS in Aizawl, Mizoram.  How and why do you call a place home? How do you know you belong somewhere?  What attaches you to a land, region or a country? It can be anything, love, family, friends, the people, patriotism or even food that makes you feel attached to a place. Since man decided to settle down, he decided to call a land his own and cultivate it. It was only the nomads or the travelers who were driven by circumstances or their own will to move around and see the world. And today, in this highly globalized world when people from different places around the world go to the remotest corner of the world to search for better opportunities, why is that we still discriminate against each other.It’s understandable if people from villages who may not know much about different cultures, regions, religions, etc. are apprehensive of some one new, coming to stay with them. But what about metropolitan cities? Aren’t they supposed to be cosmopolitan centers? Aren’t they supposed to welcome every one with open arms? In reality, exactly opposite happens of what we expect. In villages every outsider is greeted with such warmth as if he was a family member who returned home after a long time. In cities outsiders are ripped off their money by shopkeepers, rickshaw/taxi drivers, tourist guides and what now. Why is it so difficult for city dwellers to welcome every one with open arms?[caption id="attachment_1630" align="aligncenter" width="692"]A taxi stand in one of the lanes near the center of the city A taxi stand in one of the lanes near the center of the city[/caption]The recent Nido Tania murder case in Delhi was a shameful incident. It showed not only the inhospitality of the city but the aggressiveness of people. Having been born and brought up in Delhi, I know that being street smart and cautious is a necessity there. I sometimes wonder, is it living in a city which teaches you that. It is not as if the good people have vanished, it’s only that good-ness doesn’t come instinctively.Life here in Aizawl is different. It’s not as if the town is free of thieves and corruption, it’s just the good in the people is reflected more often than the bad. It’s not rare to see a young lad offer a cup of tea to the old men and women who sell petty items in the corner of the street or to see the taxi drivers wait patiently until people cross the road. People here are warm, honest and wear a smile on their face. Why it is that, two societies in the same country are starkly different. I see women everywhere, probably participating more in economic activities than men.  They walk fearlessly on the roads even at night; they dress up, show off their beauty and exuberate confidence. I ask many young men and women whom I meet, about their dreams, their villages in remote corners of Mizoram, their problems and many other things. All of them are always excited to tell about their homes, their parents and most of the times confused about their dreams. Many want to join the police, the army, travel to different parts of the country and enjoy the comforts of a government job. Many want to earn more money and go to places like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. But most of them are just happy living here in the hills. One day a young boy who was about twenty years of age was telling me how his friends go to cities like Bangalore, Delhi and Singapore to make money. I asked him why he doesn’t also go, to try his luck. He casually said that life would be difficult amongst people who do not look like him. It struck me then, that there is no one definition, for calling a place home.[caption id="attachment_1631" align="aligncenter" width="692"]Aizawl, a city in the hills Aizawl, a city in the hills[/caption]