Rohtak, the place where I was born, the place where I grew up, attained all my formal educational and professional degrees, and the place where my folks proudly live today is a cause of friendly, funny banter I get from colleagues, ex-colleagues, and friends. No, no, I enjoy their banter too much to complain. If they would stop it, I would hate myself for writing this here. But I came back from a visit to home two days back and I was thinking, how little, people who are close to me in my chosen home, Bangalore, know about this inconsequential town in Haryana.
So, here is a little enlightenment from wikipedia, ‘It is a big city but does not have malls and multiplexes’. Correction: It has one 4-screen multiplex now and another one is under construction. And I would not prefer having malls in my hometown. It would increase the rates of paani-puri and papdi chaat and deteriorate the taste and quality. The curd in papdi chaat there still is curd, not thin white colored water! The multiplexes have already increased the movie ticket rates from 50 bucks to 130!
Anyways, here are the links to info on Rohtak on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohtak
But these are links that will not tell you the most important thing about Rohtak. It is a city without any huge industrial resources, but a city of huge aspirations nonetheless. It does not have a burgeoning Automotive/IT/Services Industry such as Faridabad or Gurgaon. It does not have a Textile base like Hisar. It does not have an established rich and peaceful existence like Karnal, neither does it have an army base like Ambala. (For those who don’t know, these are the rest of Haryana districts).
If you talk of willingness to move out of comfort zones to achieve ambitions, Rohtak would run ahead of all the places I know about. Rohtak can boast of educational facilities of all kinds with in a diameter of 5-8 kms but no industry or population to absorb those skills or talent. It’s not surprising that almost everyone from my brother’s and my senior school batch is not in town anymore. You may still find the girls without professional education married within the city or in Delhi, which is nearest big city. But most of the guys who studied there in the last decade just moved on. The usual Indian mindset of finding a job in your own city just does not apply to the young Rohtakis. The village kids move to Rohtak, Rohtak kids move to Delhi and beyond.
It’s also a city of PYTs. Unlike Haryana and Punjab interiors, girls here are far more free to experiment with clothing. No one would believe it, but my college seniors did wear skirts that barely touched their knees:-) Many of them smoked, dated, moved on to bright places in their careers later. These are things that people do not expect of small town stereotypes. It would be unfair if I don’t share the flipside to this kind of group. In my college, a large section came from villages. These girls wore crisp salwar-kurtas while for us jeans, unwashed and torn, was the mantra. We didn’t really interact with them. But they made almost 50 percent of our college. Now when I go back, I feel either Bangalore is still primitive or Rohtak has grown by light years in the last three years. The jeans have grown tighter, the tops have grown shorter, sexier, and bolder.
The place I knew as a kid was a city of two extremes – Education and Agriculture. More on that and some more of my memories in my subsequent posts…