The Blame Game: The Small-town syndrome

Anirban takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the small-town syndrome. He dwells on the case of a small town boy wooing a big town girl.

Do not curse your blood. It flows through your veins. Often, we blame our genes for our ‘imagined mistakes’. Our parents seem to be vulnerable to our emotions. We often blackmail them emotionally. They stay convicted for our wrongs. This cycle goes on. When we are away from our parents, we often confess, “You know buddy, I have not been fair to my parents. I have started to miss them. Let me go home now.”

Now, look at the flip side of the coin. How often do we credit our parents (our god) for the good in our lives! How often do our parents take credit for being the cynosure of the decisions? All we know that we are a small town guy or a girl, who was brought up near the slums that has perhaps enriched our cultural diversity.

We misjudge ourselves a lot. We raise our bar of expectations. We tend to be trapped in our fantasies, which, though delusional, seem to be coming true, every now and then. Whenever there is an admonishment, we tend to blame our parents, who brought us up in a small town. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

A geographical migration takes place when someone physically moves from one geo-location to another. Every migrant is trapped in the memory of his/her homeland. These continue for generations, at times. A mental migration takes a very long time. These psychological barriers break down only when a person finds a larger identity, akin to flowing from the river to the sea. In that identity and achievement that person finds a greater meaning. Often the urbane people forget their roots, the villages that nurtured them or their forefathers.

In fact, physical or geographical migration is just a precursor to the mental migration. Let’s take a case in point. You are in a college where you have different food and clothing habits, and you are still interested in wearing dhoti, and eating bharta. Simple daal-roti would never satisfy you. But your faded jeans edge out the dhoti. To justify our act, we often repeat the adage, when in Rome do as the Romans do.
The typical small town-syndrome is exhibited by a person, who migrates from a small town to a metropolis. Some of the compelling characteristics are:

1. Lack of confidence: The immediate tell-tale sign is the lack of confidence and ability to observe details.
2. Inability to express emotions: They lose ‘the voice’. They are unable to emote. The razzamatazz of the big city makes them stiff and awkward. They remain silent, afraid that they would be rebuked, scorned or laughed at.
3. Inability to communicate: They shut themselves in a cocoon. They do not know or understand the lingo (often slangs). The barrier of discrimination makes them outsiders. They make matters worse when they fail to communicate.
4. Lack of quality: It’s a barrier that is created by the big city people. The small city person is a ‘fool’, a country bumpkin. He lacks refinement. He does not know table manners or how to hold fork-and-knife, not to speak of chopsticks.
5. Lack of friends: The small town person is a social outcaste in a metropolis. He seldom has any friends. This causes an inferiority complex in him.
6. Inability to make friends: Since he has no or very few friends, he is unable to make new friends. He is often caught in the vicious circle.
7. Lack of delivery: He is unable to ‘deliver’ as per the accepted social norms. He shrinks into his shell, often forever.
8. Self Doubt: All these create a barrier. He feels that he cannot survive in an alien place?
9. Stage 2 of Tribal Leadership: In tribal leadership, this is exhibited more in the small coterie, if formed.
10. ‘I am not OK, you are OK’: If we delve deep down, each person in the coterie has this transactional analysis.
The many causes stated above breaks the spirit of the person. Is there any cure, if not panacea, for this small-town syndrome?

Definitely, a metro girl!

If the small town guy is able to woo a metro girl, he moves up socially. She might mould him. He might communicate and share his suppressed emotions with her. He often clings to her class and status. He thus hopes to secure a name, fame and acceptance in metropolis. She becomes an object of desire for the small-town guy. Often the small town guy decides to fall in love with her a la Bollywood style. The Laila-Majnu story starts! The girl takes one step forward, while the guy matches it with 10 steps. The girl tends to show her interest in talking, while the guy swoons for her!

Often, the girl thinks she has had enough of him and she slips into oblivion, while the guy keeps on chasing her till he returns home exhausted and broken. The guy asks his Bhabi (sister-in-law), in filmy style, “Is it because we are garib (poor) that I was dumped?” His sister-in-law obviously has no answer. And the cycle goes on till the guy settles down in his career. He might shine as he kept himself busy at work to fight his loneliness. He might go abroad. Now, another metro-girl approaches him. Will the story book romance start all over again? That’s a million dollar question!

Coming back to the small-town syndrome story, there are marked differences between a small-town guy and a metro girl.

The life of a small-town guy is like a wind in the desert!

The Wind in the Desert

I heard her silently sing and dance,
Her eyes spelling a little romance,
She was weak in her expressed diction,
She thought that I was just a fiction.

I came to her like a naive poet,
Singing praises all along the way,
At her gaze I was sad, as well as mad –
She seemed to be lost in her way.

I picked her up from the dunes of time,
Put her in my hands and held her
She seemed too spirited at her thoughts-
Every time I made a move, I lost her.

For I was trying too hard to please her,
Which should never be done,
I was lost in her enigmatic eyes
That asked questions and I was undone.

Love knew no boundaries at the start,
She was drawing black in her heart,
I was saddened by her longing eyes,
She thought love was a considerable size.

She had never fathomed my love for her,
She never tried, while I was with her,
I was trying to read her messages
Maybe I did not read between the lines.

I lost her in the sands of time,
She broke free, while I was always searching;
Her indomitable spirits were around me-
Alone I faced the sun scorching!

The question remains, where can the small-town guy hide?

Pix: From Net

Poem and Table by author

Anirban Kar

Anirban Kar is a technology and business consultant, who has earned his education degree in two continents, the USA and from India. His work started from 2003 in TCS, and comprised
of various clients ranging across geographies. His area of interest is business modeling,
enterprise architecture and investment analysis.