The vanishing villages

As soon as I reached my village, I saw how the place is now a sub-county headquarters. There is a cyber café, a supermarket, coffee shops and a hypermarket. The arrival of modern life unleashed a huge search for houses to accommodate the entourage of bureaucrats and money-mongers. The villagers are converting their tiny plots into real estate. Date farming is long gone and camels refused to give milk long ago. There are high-rise apartments and flats for rent.

Nizar al Musalmy –
nizar.nmh.musalmy@gmail.com –

I am sure you have been wondering on my whereabouts since my long absence in this column.
I will not bore you with long stories of my absence because I know you are in no mood for abstract things.
I will just focus on my visit to my own village.
I went there and stayed for weeks enjoying a good time with my blood relatives.
I was holed up high in that remote place so much so that I couldn’t have time to write.
I went to that ‘bilad’ of mine and I must confess that I had not been there for quite some time.
While there, I realised that the village is no longer the same.
In a span of some years, something radical has been happening.
Before the ways of the big city and the urban infection overwhelmed me some years ago, I was an ardent admirer of the village life.
I had always believed that those people who lived in cities did so because they didn’t have villages to go to.
And every time I went to the city I would come back almost immediately in order to avoid being influenced by the bad ways of the city.
Even when I got a job in the city, going home was always a weekend thing, well until the city took the better of me.
Not that I couldn’t afford it but perhaps I developed a second head.
The city gave me so much so that I didn’t need to go anywhere.
Furthermore, just like me, some close relatives become city dwellers too.
As we entered into 2017, some never-say-die relatives persuaded me that I should visit them.
Although my intention was clear that I would rather stay around the city but in the end my relatives won.
As soon as I reached there, I saw how the place is now a sub-county headquarters.
There is a cyber café, a supermarket, coffee shops and a hypermarket.
The arrival of modern life unleashed a huge search for houses to accommodate the entourage of bureaucrats and money-mongers.
The villagers are converting their tiny plots into real estate.
Date farming is long gone and camels refused to give milk long ago.
There are high-rise apartments and flats for rent.
There is even an upcoming high-end (well, by village standards) hotel.
The village is teeming with private schools.
All this has spawned many secondary small-scale businesses bringing land prices to gallop to the skies.
In this remote place, during the early years, we used to cook food on three stones and fetch water from the wells.
But now every household accommodates things like cookers, micro-waves, refrigerators, dish washers and washing machines.
My fellow tribesmen now talk about dignified things like sandwiches, hamburgers, pizzas, pop corns and even movies.
The days of going to a restaurant and confidently ordering boiled goat’s intestines are gone.
Now all the restaurants do serve meat — rolled in breads that are wrapped in pieces of white papers.
You even see those who were born long before the renaissance now placing orders of things like hot dogs, chips, pizzas and hamburgers.
Since time immemorial coffee was well prepared in homes.
The ground beans were roasted in a thick skillet pan over a medium-high heat from fire woods.
The coffee and cardamom used to be put in boiling water and made to boil for some few minutes.
Then it got removed from the stove and left to stabilise for some few minutes.
Then the whole diluted drink was put in a metallic vessel referred to as a kettle.
We used to sit down on the floor, serve it in small cups and have it with dates which help offset the bitter taste.
But these days it is rare to see people make coffee at home.
You see men old enough to be your grandfathers going out to those café corners.
You see them comfortably seating in cozy chairs, sipping their favourite type.
They embrace the type such as Cappuccino, Café Latte, Café Mocha and the like.
It is good to see the tell-tale signs of urbanisation in my village and of course as expected with rapid urbanisation, there are negative things happening too.
But since it is my village, I won’t mention them. Have a nice weekend!