NH- 76, the highway passing through a small village in Udaipur, Rajasthan dividing the road into two parts. It was my first visit to a village during the India fellow induction training. I and my three team members were all from different parts of India and Rajasthan was completely new for all four of us. It was our initial step to start a long journey to rural India.
We decided to take a bus for reaching the village, that passed through the beautiful city and took us to the other end. As I looked out of the window, I could see huge mountains and clear blue sky. Just when I was silently admiring the beauty of sunlight falling on the mountain peaks, I got disturbed by my friend. “Let’s go! We have reached”. We got off the bus and started walking towards the village.
Nikhil from Tamil Nadu, Rajat from Kerela, Anushree from Madhya Pradesh and I from Jharkhand were together entering a village in Rajasthan. Sounds adventurous, right? It indeed was. I remember people noticing us, looking at us for longer than usual and smiling. Everyone was speaking in Mewadi (the local Rajasthani dialect) and we had no clue what they were saying. We thought it best to greet everyone with “Namaste”.
My excitement increased a level up when I saw a bunch of teenage boys playing hockey in the ground. I had a certain image of children in rural areas that broke immediately as I watched them playing hockey since I always considered it a sport for elite but on that day, it occurred to me that your economic status or geographical location doesn’t decide what you play. Rather, it’s the dedication that counts.
I had a long conversation with children and found that they learned to play hockey in their school, a primary public school nearby. Now I was even more curious to know about the village.
There was a smooth concrete road that led us to another end of the village where we found an 800-year old Vishnu temple. It was spectacular and quite famous in the vicinity. A lot of people had suggested us to visit it. Big walls of white stones covered the temple with beautifully crafted paintings. The door to enter was tiny and we struggled to get inside. The decor and design made me wonder about old times and people’s talent and creativity in that era. It was hard to imagine how they would have managed to build this structure without advanced equipments we have now.
After walking around the temple, my team decided to take some rest and so, we slept under a tree right outside the temple. Even in my wildest dreams, I never thought of doing that in a small village of Rajasthan. But sometimes you do such things and even find beauty in them. I was in love with the temple but it was time to move on.
As we went ahead, we met an old wise man who was sitting on the stairs of his house. He invited us in and we followed. As we sat down, he passed a plate of snacks and asked us to eat some. His simplicity and innocence once again changed my image of people in villages. We talked a lot. Meanwhile, his daughter came with tea for us. They made us feel so comfortable during the whole time that we forgot that we were outsiders.
It was evening and we knew that it will be difficult to find transport if it gets dark. So, we decided to head back with a lot of questions and memories in our head. Lost in thought, I didn’t even realise when we reached back. Now whenever one mentions any village, I can only think of beautiful mountains, blue sky and the 800-year old Vishnu temple.