Let me begin by wishing everyone a very blissful new year. I hope you are in great health and mood.I have spent 6 months in Swades Ki Khoj, instead of sharing experiences individually with friends through emails, let me try to express it here.
My experiences in swades ki khoj had been quite great so far. This discovery was not some one moment. I have had experiences in the past few months which all form this discovery. Changes have started happening without me being consciously aware of them. When I return from morning run, and I see some old woman breaking stones in a corner, my eyes become wet. I feel dwarfed and overwhelmed when I see an old woman bringing loads of fodder or fuel wood on her back, yet managing to give a smile when I wish her Namaste. I am valuing money more than ever before. I have made friends with people who by conventional wisdom are from a world totally different from mine. For example I became friends with Mukesh in Ashram plainly because of the fact that we are both human beings and we have a common language and I need another human being in the Ashram to see and talk to. There’s no hidden agenda or expected returns in such friendship. I am glad I could experience such unique form of friendship.
Around Deepwawali, I stayed in Mehergaon with Pradhan Hoshiyar’s family. That time of around a week was one of the best times I had. I tilled land and had break fast with the family in the field in sunshine, sitting on the same ground which had given the manduwa few months back, whose chapatti I was having there. It was a divine feeling. It was the closest I got to food we eat. I hadn’t even seen a ladyfinger plant before the internship. Pradhan Ji’s 5 tiny daughters appeared one after the other before me like von trapp children of Sounds of Music! One of them still says, ‘mujhe chacha ki khudi lag gayi’. The unconditional love that the family began showering in no time was overwhelming. Even the village became so much familiar with me that when I returned here again after some time (to see ashtabali mela to actually witness animal sacrifice) they all recognized me, although I couldn’t identify them! It was really like a home coming. My village is in Haryana where I last visited at least a decade back. No one lives there any more. I am glad that now I have a village to call my own.
Apart from this I have been going to many other villages in different clusters to speak with farmers. What has been most enlightening is the dialogue with the elderly. I try to hear their perspective on such things as ‘democracy’ and ‘freedom’. It’s interesting to know how they feel when I tell them that India is growing or that we are in 21st century. But I haven’t had enough of this. I am still hungry for more of Gairsain! I feel that I have fallen in love with Garhwal and more so with the huge hill in front of campus which I always want to embrace! People are so hospitable that I feel extremely swept over when after I have food in some home, the people in that home apologize with me for any thing I disliked. God, I see god in them! I wonder which world are these people from? Is it the same India where I lived in 6 months back? In fact when someone speaks with discourtesy, I found that almost in 100% cases, the person is from Dehradun or Delhi!
I recently attended a mid-term review workshop of Swades Ki Khoj at Chirag. It was interesting to see what others had been doing. Every one has changed in some way! Many people are more confused now including me! Earlier I would think of getting into music/ theatre/ journalism/ Air force. Now, after discovering more of myself in this internship, I am having more career interests! – NGO, IAS, doing my own business in this area, I hope confusion gets resolved in the coming months!
Now I plan to see Kumbh Mela in haridwar for the first time. These mystic things have become subjects of my interests. I am giving benefit of doubt to these things which I would earlier plainly reject as irrationalities or blind faiths, may be because of strong faith and culture of people.