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Mind Matters

Updated on: Friday, May 31, 2019, 08:53 PM IST

Life in a metro

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Stressed faces, tired bodies, lack of community life, neighbourhood and cracked family ties characterise life in a metro city. While urbanisation is good for material comfort and modern way of life, it has many adverse physical and psychological effects on an individual, observes A. L. I. CHOUGULE   

A few weeks ago I was watching Meghna Gulzar-directed Talvar in a multiplex. Engrossed in the story of double murder mystery case that resulted in unfair conviction of Arushi’s parents, my concentration went for a toss many times when I heard people talking on their cell-phones. Cell-phone was one major distraction. But that wasn’t the only one. At least for 15 minutes after the movie began, latecomers were another distraction. Post-interval, restroom visitors, snacks and popcorn buyers did their fair job of distracting/disturbing everyone’s attention.

During interval a young couple sitting next to me discussed about their dinner plan and menu. While watching the film they also had a few comments to offer. “No, that’s not fair,” said the man when Irfan Khan was taunted by one of his senior colleagues about his shaky marriage. Be it talking on phone, walking in late, offering comments or getting snacks well after the intermission, these are fairly common distractions one has to make do with while watching a film. But they also make you wonder why people don’t come in time, shut their cell-phones and watch a film in rapt attention. Why discuss dinner plan/menu during interval? Why not shut your mind from everything and just enjoy the film?

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Distraction, disturbance or interruption, this is just one example among many more of urban life distractions. Be it the morning walk, evening stroll, eating, talking, reading, travelling or relaxing, life is full of distraction, stress and anxiety. Whether a homemaker, working woman, student or worker/office-goer, it’s not unusual to find people doing one activity and thinking about the next. Sometimes it is not just one thing they keep thinking about but a bunch of things one after another.

Big or small, they let thoughts enter their mind, whether they are watching a movie, reading a book or watching TV. In fact, the logistics – management of flow of things from morning to night – of everyday life in urban areas, particularly Mumbai and other metros, are so intricate and messy and prone to so many distractions and disturbances that they drive you crazy.

This wasn’t the case three decades ago. Life was pretty simple and aspirations realistic. Movie watching was a passionate and enjoyable experience. So was reading a book or everyday newspaper. A visit to a garden or seashore was a refreshing experience. Getting lost in conversation wasn’t difficult. Travelling wasn’t so much troublesome and exhausting. Traffic wasn’t an irritant. Reaching on time to office or for an appointment wasn’t a worry. Noise and air pollution were not major concerns. Trains used to run on time. Getting an auto rickshaw was not a problem.

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Today trains don’t run on time. Eight out of ten auto rickshaw drivers refuse to take you to your destination. Driving on Mumbai roads is a nightmare; traffic is another irritant. Hence juggling between work/professional and family commitments has become a difficult task and getting seven-hour sleep, a must for physical and mental health, is a struggle. Look around and mostly one gets to see stressed faces and tired bodies, anywhere and anytime.

Urbanisation, though very important for development and growth, is a bane of personal life. But no country has ever progressed without rapid urbanisation. In modern times, industrialisation has been the driver of urbanisation. Historically, migration is linked to economic opportunities. Economists have observed that India needs massive urbanisation for economic growth. Urbanisation in India began to accelerate after independence and now it is taking place at a faster rate. According to 2001 census, 28.53 per cent of India’s population lived in urban areas, which went up to 33.16 per cent in 2011. By 2030, the figure is expected to hit 40.76 per cent of total population. That’s a huge number in a country whose total population in 2015 stands at 1.27 billion.

Primary reason for migration from rural to urban areas is employment opportunities and prosperity. But many social factors such as attraction of cities, better standard of living, better educational facilities and need for status in life also induce people to migrate to cities. While urbanisation has its merits, there are de-merits as well. Extensive and indiscriminate growth of major metros and big cities has been a major worry for experts and town planners.

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Apart from chronic infrastructure problems that affect day to day life, urban life is characterised by social problems like lack of community life, neighbourhood and cracked family ties. Urban life is highly monotonous which has adverse physical and psychological effects on individuals.  While life in a metro like Mumbai or any big city is good for material progress and modern way of life, it is not conducive to mental peace and well-being.

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Published on: Sunday, November 15, 2015, 07:03 AM IST
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