Urbanization has moulded our imagination into forms that were unimaginable until even a few years back. It has transformed cities into financial and technological hubs where every minute counts for every penny you make. In this incessant hustle and bustle, a lot of things that were once mandatory to our lives have lost their essence. The idle evening walk seems to have been lost amidst the inevitable race against time. As a result of such changes, a couple of cities have been assigned the status of metropolitan cities. Now what really makes a city a metropolis? Is it their new and innovative ways of living or is it their ability to spring up new possibilities for the young minds every single day? Does the presence of numerous counters of a highly popular food chain make a city a metropolis or the coming up of new trade and commerce centres add to its glory?
The truth though is that there is no one reason that contributes towards a city being or not being a metropolitan city. The demarcation between a metropolis and a small town perhaps is created on the basis of a few high-rise buildings that have cropped up or 5-6 super-luxury hotels that promise 5 or 7 star facilities. The question that arises from this is whether the presence of a few malls and hotels can make life better for the city people in comparison to their “small town” counterparts. It is difficult to give a clear cut answer to this eternally raging debate. For example, you have to travel to a different city and it would be of immense advantage if you have the railway station for long distance trains or an airport in your city. It saves your time and suits your convenience in every possible way. At the same time, people complain about the rising pollution levels and space problem in urban metropolitan cities and many feel that life in a small town is much quieter and healthier. It boils down to choosing between this and that because like most things there are no absolute brownie points to be earned in either of the two.
Most of the metropolitan cities are tagged as cities that do not sleep. They have people plying down the roads at even odd hours, at midnight or even early morning. You may even hear a couple of them saying that they are accustomed to the noise and the busy schedule followed in a metropolis and can never adjust to the idyllic life of a small town.Being a person who has experienced both the lives, not in the equal amount though, I can say that the two have their share of ups and downs, though after being in a metropolis, it would become difficult to get back to the life in a small town (a very personal opinion it is!). We have been subsumed in the mall culture and the many tempting facilities and luxuries that metropolitan cities have to offer.
Small towns are often associated with a rich cultural history and bring in a sense of nostalgia. Going out at 5 in the evening to have your favourite snacks along with a hot earthen cup of tea is an experience that can’t be replicated with vehicles releasing smoke on your face while you try to enjoy the road-side eatable in a metropolitan city. It is pertinent to note that small towns too are catching up on the trend and most of the so-called two-tier cities/towns have a multiplex or a high-end mall at some part of the town. The dilemma that again comes to the limelight is whether it is right to demolish a 50-year old talkies to construct a swanking new mall with multiplexes and popular food and garment chains vying for your attention. Some may justify such a move by saying that even people in the small town want to be a part of the globalization and urbanization project but the opinion in most cases remain divided.
The point of difference is just not about small towns and big cities. It is also among people belonging to different stratas of society living in those very towns and cities. Metropolitans too have acres of land being converted into dingy slums, where people fight a bitter battle for survival every single day. The fruits of modernization, IT hubs-shopping malls-high-end restaurants-million dollar private schools and colleges, make no difference to their lives. This problem of the unequal growth story is not exclusive to a certain set of countries, namely the so-called third world countries. Poverty is in every country and it is just the extent of that deprived state of livelihood that varies from country to country. At the same time you may have extremely wealthy families deciding to hold onto their suburban/small town homes despite the fancy lifestyle big cities have to offer.
The focus should lie into bringing the small town into the mainstream and developing an infrastructure in those towns as well, so that there is no huge influx of a migrating population in the metropolis, leading to severe population problems. The cliché story of a small town boy/girl dreaming and making it big in a metropolitan city can be produced with a twist if small towns too are placed on the planks of development yet making sure that they retain their original charm and essence.