It is a very small village of close to 60 households. Located next to a hill with a Sheetla mata temple at the top, the village is popular amongst the locals because of this temple. After climbing the hill to reach the temple, we sat under a tree in order to relax. A cool and calming gusty wind was blowing on an otherwise hot and sunny day. It was such a beautiful feeling. The mind was devoid of everything; thoughts, desires, wishes, worries, memories, stress, tension. We were just living the serenity of that particular moment. Suddenly, we realized it was such a smart and well thought of idea to build temples on hilltops. Because this is the way to enter a temple- blank, devoid of your own nonsense. Only when you are empty, you can soak in the grace and the energy of the divine. The exhaustion of climbing and the cool breeze at the top naturally brings this quality into you.
After having a glimpse of the village from the top, we headed downhill and to the village. We stopped at the Anganwadi, the only school in the village, hoping to find someone who can give us vital information about the village and its people. I never expected any serious education happening at the government school in such villages. Yet, I did not even expect to see what we did. The school had three classrooms. The kids were all seated in the corridor. Kids between the age group of 3 to 12 years were all seated together in the corridor and a single teacher was responsible to teach all of them at exactly the same point of time. I wondered why the classrooms were vacant. When I stepped in, I got my answer. They were absolutely dark and dingy. The metal windows were rusted and hence jammed. The mesh was broken, so the window panes had to be kept closed to avoid birds coming in. And, there was no electricity.
So the corridor was effectively the only space for all their activities. Few kids were finishing their mid- day meals when we reached, others were washing utensils just on the ramp leading to the corridor, some students were reading their book, two girls were racing with each other- they ran the length of the corridor at least 15 times, few curious ones were looking at us and our cameras, few even posed for us and the teacher was indulged in some of her own work. All of this was happening in the 5 feet wide corridor. I was amused at the multi-functionality of that space. It was very evident that the mid-day meal was the only driving force to bring children to the school. There still was a silver lining to the situation. The kids were happy. Their faces brimming with joy, smiling ear to ear, laughing as if no one was listening and dancing as if no one was watching, they were simply ecstatic. I wondered, when was the last time I saw myself so carefree.
They happily offered to show us around the village. There are two distinct settlements in the village, probably divided on the basis of cast. The first region was a simple lane with houses on both sides. The houses clearly reflect an influence of the modern materials and construction. Most people owned bikes that would be parked right inside the houses.
The other side of the village was comparatively still very vernacular in essence. The layout was similar with a north south street with houses on both sides. There was a distinct different between the houses on the east and the west. The east facing houses seemed older and less elaborate while the west facing ones seemed newer and more affluent. Every house had a Neem tree in front of it. Every house had a chabootara or ota which is a raised platform at the entrance that can be used as a sitting space and calls for chai time conversations. Machas or charpois adorned almost every space in the houses, be it the entrance, the rooms or the courtyards. It is like the single piece of furniture available in these villages that serves multiple purposes.
The lifestyle in the village is so simple yet so endearing. They mostly thrive on cattle rearing and agriculture. It was such a peaceful experience to sit under a shady tree next to the farms. Women working in the farm adorned in bright pinks and yellows looked strikingly beautiful in the green background of the crops. It was a pleasant surprise to know that technology was well in reach of this small farming community. Every house had a TV and everyone owned a cellphone. They even had access to internet. What was disheartening though, was the fact that despite this, the school had no electricity. This clearly shows the change needs to come in the mindset of the people and development or growth is not just an external phenomenon.
The visit to this village gave me enough food for thought. I kept wondering how lifestyle changes within the distance of a few kilometers. Browse through the pictures below for some charming faces, smiles, colors, farms and more.