Living: Delight of a Mohalla or Plight of a Colony?


   By Abdul Wajid Parray

An aerial view of downtown, Srinagar. Photo:

Srinagar a city with an indelible historical identity has turned topsy-turvy and transformed into all in all anew community. Highly enthralling Mohallas which once were the life line of Srinagar city have rehabilitated into new posh but outlandish colonies. People are moving from their ancestral homes to newly constructed colonies that seem like non-natural homes in some dummy world thus alienating their presence from their familiar world of Kashmiriyat.

No doubt, living in a colony is a plus in itself but if we ponder over our nostalgic merits of being a denizen of a Mohalla, we get astoundingly replied as where we do stand at present. Ask an elder, a Mohalla was the best place to reside with people caring for their comrades as if they were a part of the same family. Even different communes used to live happily together under the same roof called Mohalla. But as someone has rightly said Times changes and so do we. Today the saga has changed on the whole. Now people are leaving their companions and are moving into a new episode where everyone is a stranger.

Well all that being said I can reckon many reasons for the topic of indifference I started to write upon. Unlike a Mohalla, colonies restrict our social life merely to our homes. In a colony, one doesn’t even bother to answer your wish or say a Hi!! Big brick walls demarcate the people and their opinions as well.

Now if we talk about the celebrations, it was always a fever pitched moment for the whole Mohalla. Interestingly some anonymous friend of the cousin of someone else getting married was so desperate to attend the ceremony as if he himself was getting into the nuptial knot. And when we attend the like ceremony in a colony today, we hardly find any neighbor in the visiting list of course with handful exceptions.

The main thing that distinguishes the living conditions in the two states is undoubtedly the helping nature of the people in a Mohalla, the aid they provided to others and the pains they used to take in doing the daily chores for others. Today in this new world of settlement called Colony, terms like humility, brotherhood and aide are getting extinct so much so as if they never existed. People may buy myriad excuses for considering living in a colony as the best thing like privacy from others, more systemized living system and the like. But the seed of differences sowed by the same turns all its plus points otherwise.

Gone are the times when one could borrow almost every daily food-stuff like a chunk of sugar, milk, et al from a neighbor. Today in a colony one cannot even think of such a bungling task. I wonder if the joy of gabbing among the home maker women while washing the dishes or clothes can bell our ears ever again. Today the colony women are more inclined to the daily sops; they are dangerously dress conscious and far more conscious to scrutinize the dress of the other women. The amusement of discussing politics, cricket and other less important issues around the shop corners by the young and the olds cannot be seen again. Now we don’t even find a single shop in a residential colony where talking of long trivial bragging chats is a far cry. Children used to wander around the whole Mohalla all the time chatting, laughing, howling and playing with their darling cronies. Now children are confined to their homes only; shackled in a virtual world of video games, books and home PCs. The chirping of mynas and pigeons living under the roof tops cannot be heard again I am sorry.

Period! Houses used to be big and so did the families. There was no concept of a nuclear family. A common kitchen used to feed all. But now we have even falsified the saying that the blood is thicker than water. The same brothers who once used to share everything except their underwear seem like strangers now. They cannot even think of exchanging a thing except arguments.

This issue of indifference in the living in a Mohalla or a Colony would take a thousand pages to discuss but to windup this write-up within the prescribed words limit by the editor, I present my opinion here.  No doubt Innovation and development has always been a part of human behavior. Certainly we are dynamic and we always need a change. Living in a colony as I also mentioned above may have its own pros but the million dollar question is that where are we actually heading to? Are we losing our nostalgic past which was full of joy, excitement and fun? Are we losing our brotherhood? Are we losing the plight of living in a Mohalla? And last but definitely not the least are we losing our Kashmiriyat?

Abdul Wajid Parray is an Engineering Student at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra, Haryana. Email: [email protected]

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