Bullock cart rides and grand plans.

 
 
 
Left: Our first bullock cart ride in 2006. Right: Revisiting the bullock cart at one of our sites in 2013.

Left: Our first bullock cart ride in 2006. Right: Revisiting the bullock cart at one of our sites in 2013.

Rashmi and I left Delhi early morning, to reach Indore at 9 am on the 26th of January, 2013. Sudhir, our project coordinator and local guide picked us up from the airport, and we headed towards the potential project sites that we were here to visit. The agenda for this trip was to determine if we can work with the farmers and check the infra structure availability in the villages that had been identified and shortlisted.

As we drove towards Khargone, Rashmi and I reminisced over our trip to Khajuraho, back in 2006, when after a fun, random bullock cart ride we had talked about working together with rural India. Little did we know that 6 years later our fancy plans of working together would actually materialize.
The car took a tight turn off the highway onto the dirt tracks led to a small hamlet. An old man and his wife stood out on the courtyard and watched us walk up to them. “Ram Ram”, the old man greeted us. I smiled back, with an half-embarassed ‘Namaste’ .  As we walked up  the dune like hills, we were received by a group of 10-15 people. Everyone seemed to be extremely enthusiastic about showing us their lifestyle. We instantly felt very welcome, and got chatting with some of the farmers about their practices and produce. The discussion led to them showing us the indigenous varieties of the pulses and grains that they grow for their own consumption. Sudhir translated our very embarrassing ‘Calcutta’ hindi to their local dialect, which sounded to me like a mix of Marathi, Marwari and Gujarati. As our conversations progressed, we covered a lot of cultural and social topics, along with some ideas and concepts about development, local markets, economy and far off cities (Calcutta and Delhi), that they call ‘videsh’. After a short walk to the nearby fields where chilli, cotton, moong and maize were inter-cropped, the women brought out the chaar pai’s onto the courtyard and we sat under the pipal tree chatting with the Patel of the community who had a sparkle in his eyes that glinted even more when he used the word ‘tan tanatan’ to describe the effect their local wine, Mahua had on their body and mind after a hard day’s work.
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The women wore beautiful cotton sarees, draped in a very special style that caught Rashmi’s and my attention. We wanted to learn how towear the sari. Once this wish was voiced, within a few seconds there was a sudden flutter among the women, and all of them got busy gathering ornaments and articles of clothing, with the main lady of the house taking charge and dressing Rashmi up in a bright yellow sari. In a matter of 10 minutes, in front of my camera screen, Rashmi completely blended in with the rest of the women. There was a lot of posing and photo-taking. The children and women giggled, while the men commented on how Rashmi could easily be mistaken as a local.
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After these meetings, we checked for water availability, soil status,  road accessibility etc. and headed back to our hotel in Maheshwar.
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These casual, fun, social interactions opened up a whole new world for us. We realized what a misnomer the term ‘backward’ is to   classify the tribal communities of India. From our interactions today, it was evident that their culture is far more progressive than any of us city dwellers could ever imagine. Socially, culturally, economically – they are truly progressive and have sustained themselves for centuries. It’s shocking, and saddening to realize that in an attempt to develop and modernize our country, we are, and have been missing the big picture. We have taken far too many short cuts and have neither developed in the conventional definition of development, nor kept the traditional values that existed before India was classified as a ‘third world country’.

This first hand introduction to the indigenous lifestyle motivates us to develop a model where we can assist these communities in integrating modern technology and developments with their lifestyle. We want to learn from their systems and integrate the valuable practices with modern agriculture. Our first phase of work is in agriculture, where we integrate traditional practices with the modern practices of organic farming, and bring the products directly to the markets.

4 Comments

  1. June 19, 2013  8:58 am by Buy Pur Essence Reply

    Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to say that I have truly enjoyed surfing
    around your blog posts. After all I will be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write
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  2. July 9, 2013  1:55 pm by Rajesh Patel Reply

    Hello Mana team
    I'm Rajesh Patel. I'm doing farming near kasrawad & also doing business of agri produce. i pack & supply locally produced pulses. I am interested in working with you .
    kindly contact me.
    Thanks,
    Rajesh
    07746014789

    • July 15, 2013  3:09 pm by manadmin Reply

      Dear Mr. Patel,

      Thank you for your message. Please contact Mr. Sudhir Srivas, 09926735804. He is our local manager in Kasravat.

      Thank you,
      Avantika Jalan

  3. July 15, 2013  3:01 pm by Dr. ashok k singh Reply

    Its great job is being done by you people...

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