“Vishal, Makrand and Bharat, you three are going to Kotda Block,” said Anupama, of India Fellow Social Leadership Program who was allotting the block area to the fellows for Rural Immersion as a part of Induction training of the fellowship. “You guys will meet Bhumika, and she will guide you up to the village,” she continued. “Explore and listen as many stories as you can but don’t disturb the village life” she warned. Her words stayed loud and strong in my mind for those two days.
We were sent to a village called as Dingawari Khud. It is around 10 km from the Kotda block of Udaipur district in Rajasthan, where people of Garasia are living from over a thousand years. Garasia is a fallen Rajput tribe inhabiting in the Aravali foothills of southern Rajasthan. The village was extremely beautiful with its green hills and varied flora and fauna, but the people were behind from many of the parameters of development. They are poor and deprived of basic amenities like a proper house, electricity, education, health and safe drinking water. As soon as we found the accommodation, my ears started craving for the stories to be heard. We went out in different directions. It was hard to initiate a conversation with the villagers and especially women. Therefore, the children were the easiest of all to talk to and lead us to initiating discussion with the parents.
I saw a bunch of kids playing outside with a “Gaddi”, a toy made up of a bamboo stick and rubber wheels cut from an old slipper. I started talking to one who was cheerful among all as I was looking for someone who could answer me. In a minute or two, four other kids joined him. I showed them my umbrella and the way to open it. Soon after I started chatting with them, their mother came out to see them. She started laughing at the way I engaged kids in their own curiosity and welcomed me inside. Without much ado, I directly went inside as this was the chance I was looking for. I met five other people and heard several stories.
While I got into a discussion about the wheat and corn, which they grew in their farms, one of those kids, came and started unbuttoning the pocket of my cargo, other started playing with the umbrella to understand the mechanism to open it. I found it very cute to see them doing this out of their curiosity. My heart wanted to capture the seriousness on their face towards learning new things. I picked out my phone from my pocket, but before I could open my camera, all of other three kids rushed to my back to peep over to see how this gadget works? One may find these activities so childish, but I saw something else, I saw the curiosity in their eyes, I saw their openness to learning, their motivation to experience something new, their flood of passion for learning how things work.
Ironically, as we grow older we lose such curiosity and become less curious towards anything that comes across. The gap between innocence and experience widens. The imagination starts coarsening. We become ignorant, towards learning new experiences and hence socially passive. Perhaps, the urge to live with the liberty and freedom, without interfering or getting disturbed in the way you live your life makes you the socially Insouciant. But it cannot be the only reason. Sometimes lack of interest, the feeling that it has no meaning now but actually it has and you know it. When the will to live life fully starts to disappear somewhere that’s when you lose your curiosity.
So, come out of mundane and look around yourself, be a little childish, be a little curious. See what all this world has for you! Make yourself feel alive and kicking!
Talking about “disturbing the village life …”, now that you are in a role where you regularly interact with rural communities and in a way, take outside elements into their lives in the form of urban guests – what is your mindset and understanding of “disturbing”?