It has been three months in my field area and so far the journey has been horribly good. Do you remember The Storyteller by HH Munro Saki? Just like how the bachelor uses these two words together to describe the character of his story, I am using these words ‘Horribly Good’ to describe my journey so far. It is been so because I have had different encounters with different people which includes misinterpretations, misunderstandings, awe moments, overwhelming experiences, loneliness and so much more. I was never good at writing long essay type answers in school. Yes, I was that child who would write ‘RBCs are called red blood cells because they are red in color’ to increase length of the answer. So here I am taking help of few songs and gif to describe my journey so far in the field area.
Unlike my other first days at school, at college and at corporate job I wasn’t nervous but too excited to be on the field. I agree the 13 month is not long enough to see big changes in lives of people but I was excited to explore the issues and contribute towards solving them even if it just be small change. One could see hope in my eyes. Hope for working towards a better future. The feeling in me was as similar as of what Iqbal had in the song Ashayein – kuch aisa karke dikha, khud khush ho jaye khuda. I love staying motivated, I am sure all of us do.
I was given a project in Mangaon town which comes under Raigad district of Maharastra. The first thing I had to do is search for a house in Mangaon to stay. The day of search began with asking random people around if they have or know of place to that is available on rent. For a single bachelor not speaking vernacular language it is as difficult as anywhere else to get a house on rent. People think of you as an alcoholic, a person banished from his own town or/and a potential criminal. House owners said no as soon as they discovered I am a single bachelor. I felt nothing less than helpless Amol Palekar of the film Gharaonda. Later half of the day I was accompanied by our field coordinator Sachin Bhau (meaning brother). He can speak fluent Marathi as well has wonderful negotiating skills. After looking for about 3-4 houses; he managed to crack a deal for me. Can you believe now I pay one tenth of rent what I used to pay in Gurgaon …
My field organisation, Centre for Social Action is committed to bring about holistic development to vulnerable individuals and groups and aims to integrate them into mainstream society. As a part of it we work with Kathkari tribe of Raigad where I was also placed. Tribal have a different dialect which is similar to Marathi and although my fellow field workers are comfortable talking to me in Hindi but majority of activities and meetings are done in Marathi. Initially language barrier created misunderstanding and misconception with the community, so it was essential for me to learn understand and speak communicable Marathi. I started with learning few words and simple sentences in Marathi to start my conversation. Still the first time I tried having conversation with the community the most communicable medium was facial expressions and hand gestures. I have started to grasp important words of the sentences spoken in Marathi and try to process meaning out of it. I am happy that now I am good enough to take minutes of meetings which is held in Marathi.
Living By Yourself
I have been living away from family since past nine years but all these years I shared house with someone or other. It is the first time I am living in a house all by myself. God damn! It is difficult. I have to cook, clean, manage daily shopping, repair and everything which is needed for a functioning house. One starts admiring and empathising with all those people in your life who worked hard to provide you with the best of everything. Things are hard and challenging but I definitely didn’t join this fellowship to complain over these things. I am enjoying all these and being alone at my new home or at “Raj Mahal” as I call it. I will surely write a blog dedicated to living alone in near future.
Things Go Slow
I have been assigned to work on a project which includes helping the villagers identify and adopt alternative livelihood options as well as make the youth techno-literate through solar energy. Majority of the families in the village are landless and go to work on brick kilns. They migrated out for work post Diwali and will only be returning during Holi. Unavailability of majority of the villagers slows down the pace of the project work. Apart from researching on alternative livelihoods and preparing teaching material I am just waiting for villagers to come back.
CSA’s field area is large and it demands often travelling from one place to another. From local train and buses, state transport buses, riksha, hitchhiking to walking we use all modes of transport to and fro our field areas. Sometimes journey is as long as five hours. In one of monthly staff meeting we got a training on being professional and managing time. One of the things we discussed is to utilise our time during travelling. It becomes essential for us to utilise these long travel times efficiently. I usually schedule my calls and replying to email and messages during the time of travel. Also it does not mean one cant rest during travelling. Taking a power nap while travelling is also a part of increasing your efficiency.
So the journey so far has been horribly good and I am sure it will be much amazing as I keep moving forward.