Mofussil referred to the regions of India outside the three East India Company capitals of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras; hence, parts of a country outside an urban centre; the regions, rural areas.
The word Mofussil comes from ‘Muffasal’ in Arabic; a passive participle of Fassala, which means to divide; dividing the mighty cities from diminutive towns and villages.
The scenario is rapidly changing in the second decade of the 21st century. The Metropolis, with its burgeoning population and shrinking opportunities, is gradually looking at the mofussil towns for some relief. The corporate giants, constantly looking for buyers, are pedaling their wares and patting their backs, looking at the boom in sales in small towns and rural hinterland. The small and the big screen have discovered the effervescent pool of talent in small towns. Instead of the cliched urban themes, it is now sniffing at the mofussil towns, qasbas and smaller cities for newer stories.
Raconteurs had never experienced such bonanza in publishing their stories in the literary world, for the world wants to hear narratives from the earthy regions. Popular reel stories television channels air might be part imagined, part lived but what is the real story of the young in small towns?
Growing up in a small town in recent times can be claustrophobic for many adolescents who exist on the cusp, having kith or kin in a metro city. They feel the academic opportunities, the trendy lifestyle, the bohemian fashion experience, chic eateries and frolicsome campus atmosphere is unavailable so they succumb to the attraction of ‘pull factors’ and leave the city as soon as they secure admission in a good college or a professional course. On the other hand, there are the ones who have aspirations but are not able to leave the city due to average percentage, economic reasons, ill health or reluctant parents and have to make do with whatever the city has to offer. They join a number of courses ranging from computer, cookery to salsa and Latino dance classes apart from their graduate courses for they have too much time at their disposal and lesser distances to commute than their metro counterparts.
After the Scooty revolution ushered in freedom and mobility for girls a decade ago, the coming of the mall with international brands ushered the ‘feel good’ factor in the life of youth in small towns. The mall is a cheerful place bustling with teeny boppers, hanging out on its vast stairs. In summers, the cool comfort of incessant air-conditioning within this enclosed area offers a relief from prolonged power cuts. The young are well dressed, spending a lot of time on their appearance, on entertainment and eating out. They look homogenous, like goods on the assembly line, chatting, dressing up and eating culinary delights in the same manner as if they are not different from their peers. The teenagers who never thought of leaving the city, are happy with the solitary shopping mall, a PVR with MacDonald, pizzerias like Dominos and Pizza Hut, a few outlets of brand wear, mushrooming cyber cafes, a handful of gyms and dance classes. They never mull at the lack of opportunities and are happy to live for the moment.
Many youngsters feel that the mall experience not only brings them at par with their counterparts in metro cities but the food courts give them a culinary experience they had been deprived of. They are happy to be a part of the fashionable mainstream. Also, burgers, sodas, ice creams and French fries can be savoured by them just like their non-resident peers. It is not that these goodies were unavailable earlier but the label was missing. Moreover, going to these eateries is not just a gastronomic experience but a social event as well. Small towns, conservative by nature, where the bindaas expression of romance is not encouraged, the young have discovered Valentine’s Day, Rose day, Friend ship day to vent their feelings.
Birthday parties celebrated at home are passé. Celebrations in restaurants are fun, giving a big high to everyone invited. Being seen is as important as eating there. Fast food restaurants in the city also serve as substitutes for youth clubs, thriving on the ‘cool’ ambience they provide. The lure of branded fashion, expensive gastronomical fare and latest electronic gadgets has given a lot of style to the youth of the small town. Maybe the reel life will be able to present the transformation of the youth, no longer socially awkward, diffident or naive but very much seduced by the ‘maya’ of consumerism as their urban peers are.