Indian flavour

Bhandara Travel Blog

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So, I am an architecture student. No wonder most of my blogs/journals/reviews start off abruptly with architecture somewhere. Here comes another.

A large part of the population of India lives in the villages. Argriculture is the prime occupation of the country.
But it is indeed tragic, that an Indian farmer lives in the most pitiable condition. Any traveller to India must definitely visit an Indian village; infact so many of us Indians even haven't ever been to one.

My first visit to a village was with my aunt (she was a doctor and it is necessary for every doctor in India to serve a village for a couple of years for free). I was quite young then, and I was one of those fortunate Indian children who were sent to esteemed english-medium schools in India where the students try in every way to simulate kids from American teenage movies.

And the village was so alien to me. No metal roads, green everywhere, very bad drainage system, scanty street lights, households surviving without electricity, huge group of people living together and family members squatting and eating dinner together served on banana leaves.

My uncle was a cardiologist and he would tend to people who suffered from snake bites (India being home to the deadliest snakes). The villagers had the tenacity to catch hold of the snakes after a snake bite and bring it to the doctor for him to identify it! I was horrified to behold this one man standing on the door of our guest house holding a large king cobra in one hand and the other hand holding up his dhoti, revealing the bleeding part of his leg where the snake brutally bit him.

My first visit is only a fading memory now. Too bad I couldn't solidify it back then.

But anyway, memories came back when my fourth year of architecture started and we had a rural rehabilitation project for design. We, the students after three years of attempting to design high-rise buildings, glamorous shopping malls, robust bungalows, chose to acknowledge the rural scenario of India. For this, we delved deep into the various aspects of 3 villages that we had identified. We conducted various types of surveys.

On the first day, we set off separately to our concerned villages in buses. It was rainy, and view from the bus window was spectacular. The country side was as if out of a book; green, clean, a gust of wind making the crops sway, farmers working diligently on their respective farms, and cattle ploughing through the muddy fields.

As we entered the village, every student was prepared with cameras, sketch books, measuring tapes, hats, umbrellas; numerous children from the village swarmed towards us, brimming with excitement, thrilled to watch us with our instruments. Some of the villagers also beckoned us to take pictures of their kids. Most of them had no clue what an SLR is.

On our arrival, a big mob gathered almost immediately, discussing amongst themselves, probably mistaking us to be from the government survey department. From this, we inferred that the prime assembly area to each village was very much right at the entrance to it, because of security reasons, and also because the entrance had immediate accessibility.

We further split into smaller groups of two, to carry out the surveys.

As we walked down the narrow kuchcha lanes, with not an inch of tarring, we realized the beauty of organic development. How different the outlook of the villagers is, from us. While we in the city want clean and straight roads, spaced out houses, for more privacy, these villagers feel secure living in close knit spaces, one window almost opening into that of another house; cattle sheds attached to houses, so they can watch over the cattle and feed them. As we looked around, we watched the females of households carrying their pots and containers towards the meagre water sources, a villager dipping his hands in a puddle to wash it clean, little children playing cricket with a tattered bat, also some of them looking at us with skepticism, while some suspicious characters also lurked around.

We acquainted ourselves with the directions of the village, and also with some seemingly friendly villagers. The next day, the second day, we went looking for the apparently friendly, and asked them to lead us to their families to conduct the very extensive household surveys. We went to at least 30 families, most of them making us feel very welcome. Some even offered us tea, while some posed for several pictures.

A lot of them expressed their grievance against the government and its policies, how the government gave them false consolation, blithely unaware of the hapless condition of the people. The rehabilitation that they were promised was taking ages to get into effect, their livelihood jeopardized due to the dam on the river Wainganga, and that the government concession in the form of money just wasn’t adequate.

Even after three decades of planning and materializing, there is unrest among the people of the villages. they also stated that it was very callous on the authority’s part to let the construction of the dam commence first, and plan the rehabilitation later.

From certain surveys, we learnt that their dream house doesn’t consist of massive living rooms and bedrooms and kitchens, but of very simple facilities, like an attached toilet, a cow shed, a little porch to provide relief from the harsh sun, windows looking out on the roads so they know what’s happening in the rest of the village.

When we asked them why do they think the government is so insensitive towards them, a girl with deep set eyes and neatly braided hair replied 'We aren't people, we're poor'.

Clearly, they have been angry - for a very long time. And consequently some of them can also be hostile to those not belonging to the village. But most of them are very simple, uneducated people, with small dreams and expectations. I found most of them to be very helpful too. It was quite evocative to study their lifestyle. Where life without facebook, TB, a barca lounger or an iPad is hardly imaginable for most of us; regular meals and electric supply could be a distant dream for people.

Erna says:
Pictures are beautiful :) I want to go to India now :)
Posted on: Apr 19, 2012
rimo says:
If u see India u will see the whole world...India is grt...see it,feel it,enjoy it..
Posted on: Apr 06, 2012
fransglobal says:
Very interesting.
Posted on: Jan 27, 2012
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Bhandara
photo by: msarkar2810