“Are you bored yet?” Family and family friends peer curiously into my face as they ask me this, searching for affirmation. They wonder, how can a city-bred like me be happy in a place like Aurangabad?
It has been a month since I moved here from Mumbai, taking a step away from my day job to experience firsthand the winds of change cutting across small towns like Aurangabad. There is a lot to absorb, and my eyes and ears have been on overdrive since I came in on a dusty, cool November morning. What feels like the slow crawl of banality to others has crisp novelty for me.
For instance, gyms are present in abundance, with “ladies hours” or even some that are dedicated to “ladies only”. The clientele inside is, indeed, women – mothers and homemakers, and not college-goers who are typically the ones to care about their weight in India. At the gym located within my housing society, women who are already married and therefore have social sanction to let themselves go are sweating it out, as best as they know, peddling away on stationary bikes and then hopping onto the treadmill to puff it out another half hour. Their workout outfit? Ah, the graceful salwar kameez paired with not so elegant gym shoes. The sight is, well, not pretty; gym fashion has a way to go still.
Another striking phenomenon is the amalgam of language that is heard everywhere. What used to be unfettered Marathi has now become punctuated by interjections of Hindi and English. From the cable guy to the vegetable vendor to the maid, the sounds of other languages ring out, so effortlessly that they are clearly ensconced comfortably in the local. I’m still getting used to it.
There are many more observations to talk about, but they are still churning in my head. I’ll write about them as I make a bit more sense out of them. One thing is for sure, I’m nowhere near bored.