Life in a big city is full of fun and frolic, full of hazards and full of drudgery too. For many it is rather a hell. The people living on the sea beaches in Mumbai and Chennai, in the palatial buildings in Anna Salai or in the posh South Delhi area enjoy all the facilities for they are rich. They have their own means of transport. The bungalows or the palatial flats have all the facilities of electric appliances, computerized systems, and latest gadgets for the housewife and electronic toys for the children. They control big industries and business houses. They have the satisfaction of controlling the fate of thousands of people working in their establishments.
Of course they are big producers too and can be proud of increasing the national wealth. They have the proximity to big bosses in politics. They can influence them. In some countries, including India these preferential people own the media too. The big cities move and guide the politics throughout the country influencing even the democratic process through money power.
For the middle classes too who can afford to rub shoulders with people in the transport juggernaut a big city satisfies their needs quite reasonably. They enjoy the professional and employment opportunities in these beehives of business concerns and government establishments.
The upper middle class people like medical practitioners, advocates, Chartered Accountants, Business consultants, Scientists, higher echelons in the field of education and research and small scale entrepreneurs including people working in the burgeoning media enjoy life in a big city. They enjoy the opportunities and aspire to be at par with the rich some day. They too establish their contacts in a big way-the bourgeois in the Communist lexicon.
They live in a bit less palatial premises—of course competing with all the facilities that the rich enjoy.
Life for the lower middle class people who, most probably, share the largest group of people in a big city is not as easy going as that of the other two groups. Their houses are humble abodes either in the crowded old city localities or in the far off colonies and suburbs. Like their brethren in the other groups they too aspire for better education for their children, better life, better employment and better enjoyable life.
For all this they and heir offspring’s face the music. They have to stand in long queues for buses or for tickets in suburban trains. They and their children face the agony of having problems at every step. They, of course, have good sources of enjoyment-cinema halls, parks, museums, restaurants, sea beach. But it is only the weekend when they can afford to have fancy for them if their pocket allows it.
Some of them have to work hard for extra emoluments to run the show. Part time work including the lucrative business of tuitions is available in abundance Distance may be the only drawback.
It is only the last category of the poor who live side by side these three—both in heaven and hell in big cities. Most of them migrate to a big city. It is heaven for them for it provides them work that they don’t have in their cities and villages. The big city, for living conditions, is rather a hell for them. Most of them live in very small tenaments or in slums.
There are hundreds of slums in big cities. The atmosphere is as morbid as their lives are. They experience all the inconveniences. Their place of work is sometimes 25 to 40 kms from their so called house. They and their family members may be having a space of only 6 ft by 8 ft to live and cook. There are mafias who govern the slums. They undergo sexual and violent assaults.
The children can hardly get any education. Most of them work in roadside restaurants and other establishments. Medical facilities are beyond their reach. Many of them become drug addicts. They too of course enjoy pictures, television and such sources of enjoyment. But they are easy prey to venereal diseases.
AIDS has been entering these slums in a big way. They can’t help it. They just pass these dreaded things to the other classes too who are equally weak in sex. Well! One wonders whether people live in heaven or hell in big cities. In one aspect all are equal—all are engulfed with pure materialism that eats into their flesh.