When You Visit A Village With Your Eyes Open

by | Nov 28, 2021

Today, I got a chance to visit a quaint little village called Jatara*, in the Udaipur District of Rajasthan. The sole purpose of this visit was to observe, look around and understand the village. Our group consisted of five people (my co-fellows and I). We did not have high expectations. On reaching, my first impression of the village was based on narrow streets and the clusters of houses that were visible to the eye. It was surrounded by agricultural fields on all sides with lush green mountains in the distance. The hospitality we received from the first house itself, left me amazed. It was a traditionally constructed brick house, with a bike parked in front of it and a middle-aged man tying a toddler’s toy car to the back of his bike.

We introduced ourselves to the man and his father who must be in his 70s. The older man left for market with his grandchild. His son made sure that we all drink the buttermilk prepared by his wife, and take more servings. From him, I got to know about the village and the main occupations people pursue, such as marble and furniture work. He told us that there was an increasing trend among young people to migrate to Bangalore, for studying or working, so that they can earn a better income for their families.

In addition to this, we met a charming teacher called Meenakshi Devi*. The moment she saw us, she welcomed us into her small primary school setup with a warm smile. She shared several stories about her life and village where she had been a teacher for 35 years, and had taught generations of children. My co-fellows Akshatha and Nivedita, have written elaborately about our interactions with her. You can read it here and here respectively.

What stood out for me was her insights about utilizing patience as a way to move forward in life and if one does not do that, they can never truly rise above the past. The example she gave us, was about her younger daughter and how her performance in competitive exams bothered her to the extent that she got physically ill. In another instance, she met with an accident while riding a scooter, and injured her knees which restricted her mobility. She told us ways in which her grit and determination helped her overcome such experiences.

On the way

After more than an hour of talking to her, we set out to explore the village and I was dumbfounded by what I saw. The streets became wider and the houses were constructed in a modern way, with woodwork and side panels, in non-traditional architecture. One house that struck me the most had a clean layout and glass panels in the balcony. It looked so picturesque, that it reminded me of a posh locality in a metro city.

My conventional idea of villages and people’s mindset there, was challenged. Opposite to me, was a tree dotted with small yellow flowers on the top, clouds partly covering the sun and the streaks of sunlight shining around the tree which stood tall against the blue sky, looking spectacular.

Jatara appeared tranquil in the afternoon, away from the usual traffic noises and chaos of any town or city. The hills and mountains around, gave a sense of serenity. It put all the worries and troubles to rest because being in such a place happens only once in a while, and it needs to be appreciated and savoured while it lasts.

After visiting Jatara, I realized that despite considering myself an open-minded person, I did eventually judge the book by its cover. Once we walked around the village, the fact that I was surprised or shocked by what I saw, challenged my mindset. I left confronting my preconceived notions and the biases of what a village looks like.

*Names changed to maintain confidentiality

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