East and West

Two friends, two cities, and an age-old debate.

S and T have been best friends since childhood. They have grown up together in the same locality, studied in the same school and even ended up in the same university. However S majored in Electronics Engineering, whereas T pursued humanities, and majored in English. S now has a lucrative job in the corporate world and has shifted to the “financial capital” of the country. T is professor in a reputed university and has stayed back in his hometown, the “cultural capital” of the country. So when S came back to his hometown for a short vacation, the two of them went to their favourite “Coffee House”. Here is the conversation they had over a cup of coffee.

T: So welcome back. You must be really happy and excited to be back home.

S: Not really T. Apart from you, a couple of our friends and my parents, there is nothing really here to be excited about.

T: Are you serious? Why do you feel this way?

S: Several reasons. First and foremost everything is so slow-paced here. It’s like everybody follows a “stretchable time” which frankly gets on my nerves.

T: Maybe the people in your adopted city are in too much of a hurry. So you find normal slow. But aren’t you happy to be sitting here at our “Coffee House” enjoying this world-famous coffee and pastry.

S: Actually I am feeling sad seeing the state of this place. Something so old and dilapidated wouldn’t have survived in my “adopted” town. And quite frankly it shouldn’t.

T: Old is gold my friend. Something that has lasted almost a century is worth preserving. I certainly will not destroy it. None of us living here could even imagine our city without this place.

S: But then shouldn’t this place at least be renovated? If this place means so much to the people here, shouldn’t they force the government to bring this place up to modern standards?

T: You are right when you say it needs to be renovated. But the government has more pressing matters now. A private beverage chain wanted to buy this place, but the coffee-house would be demolished and the new building would have been like every other coffee place in their chain. So they were rejected.

S: This is exactly the problem with this city and it’s people. They don’t realize sometimes change is good. As times change, standards change and everything needs to be upgraded to meet the latest standards. Otherwise they fall into oblivion.

T: But somethings should not change, specially places of significance. Would you demolish the pyramids of egypt and replace them with glass pyramids, you know like the one at The Louvre, just because that looks modern. What I am trying to say is, here people preserve things they consider heritage, in its original form.

S: Heritage is one thing. Stagnant is another. And the difference between my city and yours is that the people of my city know what to preserve and what to let go off.

T: Is it so? Last I checked it seems your city has let go of everything. 40-year-old people who come back to your town, say this is not the place they were born. Is that a good thing?

S: I think so. It shows that my city has kept up with the modern age and is now one the greatest cities in the world. My hometown on the other hand is a shadow of its former self. Look at the transport system. It’s so out of date. If the government wants to increase the fare slightly, people here will protest and everything will come to standstill.

T: That is because the average earning for people living here is way below what people earn in your place. For us, uncomfortable but cheap transport is better than expensive but inaccessible transport.

S: No my friend. It’s because people here have managed to completely isolate themselves from the rest of the world. Stats show that income has increased manifolds here. The problem lies with the fact that you all are stubborn. You still believe this is the best place in the world. When someone tries to induce a culture of professionalism here, he gets labelled as a “corporate stooge” and falls into oblivion. People here still believe that half an hour is equal to two hours. This place has fallen ages behind and its the fault of the people’s mentality.

T: What you think is unprofessionalism is our way of working. This is how we have got things done for ages, and still continue to get everything done. The difference is we are not sellouts like the people of your city. Nor do we have any place for sellouts in our city. Every decision is debated by the people, and no matter how lucrative an offer is, if it does not benefit the common people, we reject it.

S: And this why my friend, “East will be East. It will never be West”

During the conversation S had paid the bill. When the waiter returned with the change, he generously told him to keep the change. The waiter replied, “Thank you Sir. That is really kind of you. But we already charge service tax for every order. Thus taking more money from you will be an act of dishonesty on my part and against my ethics.”  He left the change on the table and continued serving other customers. S looked at T who was smiling. T replied:

No my friend. This is why East will be East. It will never be West.”

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12 thoughts on “East and West

  1. Wow! There are all kind of moral dilemmas here – with both sides being ‘right’. Amazing dialogue. I sensed a heightened level of tension/debate. I enjoy a good debate every once in a while.
    My hometown is a lot like T’s. They buck up against change and enjoy things the way they are. If the residents desire more, they can relocate or get in their cars and drive 15 minutes to get those ‘precious’ amenities.
    Highly relatable post. I truly enjoyed my visit! 😀
    ~ Angela

    • Thank you Angela for relating to the post. To be honest with you both parties have their point. In real life I have lived in both the afore mentioned cities, and what I have done is highlighted the good and the bad in both places. Ultimately now I like both places for what they are, but the difference of culture is what I tried to bring out through this post. And I am sure you would. have similar feelings if you moved from your hometown to a place like the one where S stays. 🙂

      • Absolutely! I definitely ‘get it’. I am one of those who has moved from ‘comfortable and cozy’ to ‘fast and furious’. I should have said in my initial response to you, “My former hometown…” I moved away eight years ago. While I have no desire to live there again, when I visit, I become nostalgic – if only for the moment. So yes: I have both experiences to relate to as well. 🙂

  2. I thought this was quite interesting. It reminded me of the ‘powerscourt townhouse centre’ as I read an article on that and in short the local people did not like how it changed, which wasn’t what was anticipated at all

    • Thank you for the comment. And yes, like the ‘powerscourt townhouse centre’, over the years I have read similar articles where similar debates have come to light.

  3. Very nicely written! Also it actually made me think about many issues related to the same thing. Certainly living at a slower pace is much healthier. I guess it depends on what one wants out of life.

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