बाड़ी का मतलब होता है घर, और ये है कंडबाड़ी। पालमपुर की हरी वादियों में बसा एक गाँव, जहां फूलों से टकराके महकती है हवा। जहां चाय के बाग़ानों से घिरे हुए, आप दूर खड़ी धौलाधार की चोटियों को निहारते रह जाते हो। जहां कब सूरज निकलेगा और कब होगी बारिश, इसकी खबर किसी को नहीं। छाता ले जाओ या रेनकोट, किसी का कोई असर नहीं। जहां सब ही अपने हैं, बस बात करने की देरी है। जहां चाँद की चमक ऐसी पड़ती है, मानो जन्नत की ख़्वाहिश बख़्श दी है। जहां दोस्त बन जाते हैं, बिना उम्र देखे। जहां से प्यार तो तुम्हें हो ही जाएगा, बस आना ही तो है...
My love for the place where I am working, must be visible to you in the little poem that became the opening for this blog. Moving to the hills of Himachal Pradesh from the plains of Delhi-NCR gave me a major change both in terms of geography and lifestyle. I have always longed for the mountains but living here is a lot different from what I had imagined. I have gotten so used to the noise of birds cuckoo-ing, crickets cricketing and cows mooing that I couldn’t bear the sounds of traffic when I recently visited home.
I couldn’t stop myself from drawing parallels between the city where I have lived all my life and the village I’ve been living in for the past 8 months. One prominent aspect has been ‘leisure and entertainment‘. These words reap new meaning and definition. One’s age, gender, occupation, interests, social setting and everything around it affects what one means by leisure and entertainment. But you need to feel relaxed and at ease in these moments of unwinding.
Living in Delhi-NCR my entire life, I know of leisure as a ‘slow time’ since life in the city always feels like a race. From school to college to workplace and family, everything is rushed and everyone is competing. Earlier, leisure was ‘Sundays at home’ when I would wake up late, eat Sunday special brunch cooked by my mother, watch a movie or binge on a TV show. Sometimes, it also involved a bit of dancing and singing, cooking and playing board games.
Here in Kandbari, I have witnessed leisure and entertainment in a different and a fascinating way, although some parts of it remains similar. The life, in general, is quite laid back. The days start early, since farming and cattle rearing, the main occupation, has to be done in the morning but I don’t see the ‘unforgiving race’ that we are accustomed to, in our cities.
I have seen women walking on the roadside knitting sweaters and socks on the go. On remarking “Aunty aap chalte chalte bunai karte ho!” (You knit while walking?), they would reply “To aur kya karna chalte chalte? Ye hi time pass hai!” (So what else to do while walking? This is a good time pass.)
I have seen men and young boys chatting for hours over tea, momos or samosas. Men with bottles of local liquor often sit at a bus stand in the middle of the village and discuss politics, sports and latest happenings of the village. This is something I’ve seen back at home too, in a slightly different setting but the conversations are similar.
Children run from field-to-field playing catch, building mud forts and raging pebble wars, taking little lambs and sheep to graze or just walking behind their mothers and grandmothers as they work in the fields. I have also seen them playing on a swing in my office campus, singing local songs and ballads in complete harmony. It is common for young adults to stroll or ride their scooters to scenic spots, go on little picnics and munch on snacks, read, chat and admire the beautiful surroundings.
Women graze their cattle in the evening while enjoying their chatter and downtime as cows munch on the green grass while goats lurk towards the pretty flowers. They would spend hours talking to each other, sharing their day-to-day happenings.
At times, I felt that the lines blurred between work and leisure, especially for women. Their foreheads are less wrinkled with the lines of worry and distress. Young men play Cricket in the ground on Sundays (as seen in the picture above) with loud commentary that’s audible even half a kilometre away. In the evenings, some of them sing bhajans in the village temple while others speed away on motorcycles.
At Aavishkaar, the organization I’m working with, the students include children and young women from villages across India. While the former are engaged in school curriculum, the latter pursue courses on Rural Development and Management as well as our Primary Math Educator Program. For these girls and women, leisure and entertainment comprises of dancing their hearts out on different regional, Bollywood and punjabi songs. They also enjoy talking to family and friends over voice and video calls, catching up on daily soaps and cooking dishes that remind them of home. Another leisure activity is to click endless pictures.
Combining the old and new, I often find myself walking around aimlessly. I still do some things I used to do on Sundays back home but I would also go around looking at life around here, observing birds and finding more about them on Google, talking to women working in the fields, chatting with the neighbours over a cup of tea or lunch, singing songs with kids, dancing with my students, cooking our favourite meals and just laying back once in a while.
A rather interesting mode of entertainment I came across here was an Art Exhibition organised in the village. In my mind, it was something that I associated with the city life. It took me a while to settle the thought in, that it’s happening here. It was one of the most amazing exhibitions I have attended and had so much meaning in it that it left me wondering for quite some time. I’ll probably write about it in my next blog. Till then, let me know about your ways of leisure and entertainment.