Contemplating On A Day In A Village Today…

by | Mar 16, 2019

I come from Chennai, a busy, well-developed Metropolitan city that competes with many other major cities in India. This was not my first time visiting a village as I have been to some of them in Tamil Nadu. I had an image of how a village would look like in reality. The ones I had visited earlier were developed and well-connected. Taking a cue from my earlier experience, while going to a village in Udaipur this time, I thought it would have a lot of farmland, old farmers covered in dust and shabby clothes, mud houses with cows and buffaloes tied in a barn and kaccha roads. I had assumed that it would be extremely rural and poor.

My perception had to change and the last few days helped me with that. A small village not far from Udaipur City is where I went to learn how a village here looks like.

Thus started a journey from ‘Brahmanon Ki Hunder’. I hopped on to the carrier of a car, hitchhiking. As the name suggests, this village is named after the Brahmin Community which lives in majority there. The Brahmins here are called Chaubisas. There’s another community that lives here. They belong to a backward caste called Ghametis. It was quite difficult for me to acknowledge the fact that this is a village with concrete roads, drainage channels and electricity available in each house. It was great to see that a few government schemes were also implemented such as building toilets for every household and constructing houses for Ghametis.

The villagers were welcoming. They shared pleasantries even though I am a stranger to them. It made me happy. This kind gesture made me believe that the village has more to explore. This was also new for me as I had experienced something opposite during my visit to a village in Tamil Nadu. Because we had approached them as students, it had made them uncomfortable.

While walking along the road of this village, I could feel fresh air and enjoy its beautiful landscape surrounded by hills and farmlands. The walk through the heart of the village was an excellent opportunity to interact with the people and start a few friendships. I also made it a point to not make the same old mistake of making the situation less comfortable here.

There, I happened to meet Mr. Malik Chaubisa*, a farmer in this village. He is a confident looking man in his late 50s, a B.Ed graduate who has been farming here for many years following his forefathers’ occupation. He was glad to share his experiences and told that he has worked with a few organizations in order to teach young children of his village. He had worked hard throughout his life and had explored various opportunities. The way he talked and reiterated that the village and its people are happy and welcoming made me feel contented. However, my perceptions about the village accommodating people from all castes were clouding as some evidences were contradicting to his claims.

There was a clear division of Ghameti people from Chaubisas in the village which was understood by the concentration of their houses in separate areas. The Ghameti children were reluctant to come to the houses of upper caste people. That’s when I could see the grey. I also met a lady in her late 40s who was curious to inquire the purpose of our visit. It was past noon and she warmly invited us to her house. Initially, I was a little hesitant and unsure of accepting or denying her invite but since I was hungry and had no other place to go feed myself, I felt that it was harmless to join her humble abode and taste some good homely Rajasthani food. Even though there was guilt that I may be having her share of food, the taste and homely feel could not stop me. After a hearty meal and sharing some light moments with her, it was time to bid adieu. Off I set out to the streets of the village.

One thing that I couldn’t miss noticing was that both the times when a man and a woman asked for my caste, they probably wanted to know if I belong to a backward community. It was hard for me to accept caste division even though I understand that change at that level is still happening in the village but one’s social identity could play a much bigger role in determining people’s approach towards each other. It was stark for me as I had never encountered that question when I visited the villages in Tamil Nadu. That could be because I assumed such social identities were not being evidently portrayed as a norm in those villages.

This visit was indeed a great learning experience for me and hence contemplating that day now has helped me understand the diversities and culture of the village to some extent. Would be starting my journey with new perspectives now!

*Name changed to protect identity

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