Sunday, 13 December 2009

Its time to leave the village

You may have followed the travails of our city bred yuppie here and here. He survived the attentions of the peacock. He managed to escape being hitched. He got over the close association with bovine sex life. He even learnt to ignore the ever present gun. But , at last,  the time came for him to leave the village and go back to the city – back to normal business, back to the life he was used to.

The parting was really tough. There wasn’t a dry eye on the day of his departure. The hosts openly wept. They, and he, knew that they would never see each other again. For two months they had shared the same roof. Eaten the same food. They came from different worlds and yet had started to appreciate the other. It was now time to go their separate ways. But for both, their lives would never be the same again. He got his bags together. Said goodbye to the teary family gathered on the porch. There was mutual assurance that they would write to each other – on inland letters as was the norm then. But they both knew this would not happen. It was over.

On the long train ride back to the city, the yuppie reflected on the two months that he had spent. The good, the bad and the ugly. The good first. People make incredibly warm bonds in the unlikeliest of circumstances. The hosts had much of the simplicity that defines life in India. They shared whatever they had with their guest. They reached out openly to him. They were curious about the different life he came from, but they did not disparage it. They related to him with their hearts, not their heads.

But the ugly side of village life also needs telling. The appalling caste system is, alas, well and thriving in rural India. Untouchability in its starkest form is evident everywhere. Crime is omnipresent ; there is little of the rule of law – the gun is the king. The treatment of women is often barbaric. There is abject poverty. Poverty is demeaning to the soul. If ever there is anything that dehumanizes people, its poverty. Under the excuse of poverty, anything goes. It is so obvious that helping lift people out of poverty must be the number one priority for any state – in this there can be no better shining example than China.

As the train chugged on, the yuppie continued to ruminate. As in all things in life, there are two sides to everything. Some people glorify village life. Others disparage it. Each sees it through the lens he has fashioned. From behind his own lens, the yuppie concluded that his truth is that there is some good and a lot bad. But it was an experience indeed. Something he was not likely to forget in a hurry. For, after all, experience is the elixir of life.

The train chugged into the city station. He sighed deeply, and stepped forward into the world that was his, and the one he knew allright.

17 comments:

  1. savitha13/12/09

    This part alone makes me nostalgic!

    I agree with everything here, except for the crime part. With my years of association (in the many villages I have been associated with), I haven't seen any. This is something I have read in so many books, and cannot relate to!!

    Untouchablity is prevalent, however, these days, the gap is decreasing?

    The short experience of the yuppie in the village was interesting!!

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  2. Exkalibur66613/12/09

    An interesting experience which many of the urban youth of India today need.. to understand where we as a people and society come from..

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  3. Sandhya Sriram13/12/09

    the post has two faces like your village experience.

    the sad part is that our yuppie has returned to normal life and maybe I will not get to hear of his exhilarating experience from the best narrator i have known thus far

    The better part is that the yuppie has gained a once i a life time perspective of a side of life which was quite alien to him thus far.

    I can connect to every word of what you say. while my rural stint was not as tough as our yuppie's as i never did many stuff as narrated by you, i did struggle for meeting my own bovine and other cleanliness needs. But what remains are the memories of those crystal hearts on the positive and the social evils as narrated by you as the negative side and somewhere as time passed by, the positive reflections have stayed longer

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  4. lovely ending.. loved the 'completness' of the post..

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  5. @savitha - Crime is much more prevalent in northern India. Crime is unfortunately widespread here.

    @exkalibur - Yes; one of the issues for India is the growing divide between rural and urban - ech is almost in a different world from the other.

    @sandhya - Thanks as always for the kind words. Its a tribute to you, how the positive experiences have lingered longer and deeper -bravo

    @AJCL - Thanks so much

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  6. I could visualize yuppie's parting and reflection moments, such is the power of your narration!

    It was very touching, I have always loved this good part of rural and semi-urban India, more so because I hail from one of such semi-urban towns of Jharkhand.

    I agree that there are a lot of issues which would attract immediate attention but the good news is that things have really improved over past one and a half decade.

    While caste system and poverty still prevail in most part of India, untouchability and treatment of women are getting better day by day. On a second thought, crime and treatment of women are in bad shape even in several urban parts of the country.

    Hope our yuppie gets a chance to revisit the village :-)

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  7. :( i think tht applies to any place..leave alone the villages...bt somehow..wenever i think of villages..my prejudiced mind always conjurs up an image of a dark old man with hair as white as snow standing with a stick in his hand..clad in a dirty dhoti and no shirt!! call it the curse of watching too many movies or a mind unprepared to really take the effort to know more abt village(r)s..somehow youth and village doesnt quite match for me..maybe because i think most of the village youths travel to city for living?? watever the case may be..to me the word village paints a picture of an open old age home..as if village is a place where "wile"fully "age"d people stay.. still holding on to their age old beliefs and customs. I know i am horribly wrong in the real world..but this is my virtual view :(( cudnt help it

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  8. //But the ugly side of village life also needs telling. The appalling caste system is, alas, well and thriving in rural India. Untouchability in its starkest form is evident everywhere. Crime is omnipresent ; there is little of the rule of law – the gun is the king.//

    i think these are all the handiworks of idle mind...the place where people dont have time to sit and relax..you wud hardly find all these stuff..getting education to people is the only solution towards all these. Many of my friends are seriously into this. they go to nearby villages..gather kids and teach them..not just tht. they pay for their fees..and ensure tht once they are done with 12th std..they also help in getting them into some prof. course!! these guys are really amazing.

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  9. The yuppie comes back ?? Oh how sad! :D :D Just kidding... The concluding Village story has your style stamped all over it! :-) It is believable that you are the yuppie in question in this part.(unlike in the other two, where we really had to wonder ... :D )

    Your point about the good and bad in a village is sadly what is the case. Good exists everywhere alongside cruelty. The thing is people have been doing it for years that they don't really stop to wonder how the person who is discriminated against feels. Sometimes, I feel we should walk in each others shoes and realize that it is more than likely that others have problems which can choke the bejabbers of us. Wishful thinking ...

    Oh I have rambled on ... :-) Beautiful posts today and I do hope we hear yuppie stories again - the smart fellow whom the whole village adored! :-)

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  10. after reading this post of urs..u resemble manoj kumar to me :D the original Mr. Bharat :)

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  11. Very sweet series - such a vivid narration of events and emotions of so many years ago.

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  12. Kiwibloke16/12/09

    Contrarian view again. Our general (the metro born and bred)view is that the villages of India are idyllic, serene and life meanders along at a leisurely pace. Beg to differ - our villages are nothing but s%$^holes with open sewers, a pathetically anachronistic, superstitious, caste ridden populace with no semblence of personal hygiene or civic sense and very little effort/opportunity to get out of the rut and even those pathetic souls that do get out of the rut get into the big city slums and create much more of mess. (I'm quite qualified to make these 'irreverential' statements, having lived in a small town/village for 17 years!) I wish we had had a leader with foresight of Mao, who planned a migration of over half a billion people from rural China to the Cities on the Eastern Seaboard (and my Yank friends please note, with China rising, the eastern seaboard is no longer Boston to Washington,but Dalian to Guangzhou). Nothing but DRASTIC surgery will rid India of the malaise of the villages that we are so sentimentally proud of. (whoa that's quite a bit of venom and am ready for a lynching)

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  13. huff!! Thank God I didn't miss much while I was away! :)

    This one just took me back to my childhood days! My dad being an Arty officer would get posted in all god forsaken places. So I have seen villages in Assam, Himachal, Rajasthan, Punjab, MP... you name it; and of course my own village in Maharashtra! None down south though (unless we wanna take all 'halli's in bangalore literally... they quite fit the bill too). To think of, I do have something for villages, even in US, I am in Connecticut!!

    But in the heart of hearts I am a small town girl! Yes, they may be poor, they may be crazily superstitious, may not be very hygenic and civilized, but I know I am always welcome at their doors without any reservations. If there are any, they won't entertain me at all. Much better than the 'oh so diplomatic' city folks, who can go around with a straight face with the meanest thoughts, schemes and motives running in their heads about you.

    Not to blame anyone, as each one of them has been through a life which has made them that ways!

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  14. Sorry for the very late response. Not been online for the last few days - travel's been crazy. Stuill travelling and so a bad blogging week

    @VA - Thanks. Yes its getting better , but many things are still awful - witness kiwi's rant !!

    @gils - Brilliant comment ; underneath your humour is a sharp incisive mind - Bravo. Absolutely right idle mind is the cause and education the cure.

    @thoughtful train - Oh not its not me. I am neither young, nor upwardly mobile. And not city bred either. As you say -nothing in life is an extrme - where there's good there's bad too.

    @J - Thanks very much

    @kiwi - OMG - what happened to warrant such a rant !!

    @Deepa - The hallis of Bangalore are far from village category !! And nowehere in Connecticut can there be a village - not when you're rubbing shoulders with all the zillion dollar bankers !!

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  15. Well the chaos in Marthahalli looks like some village folks have come to see the town for the first time... and in Connecticut, yes one can meet as many suited and booted bankers u may want, but the place is as sleepy as it can get! Trust me my friends from NJ call me, 'country folk' and a visit to my place is termed as a drive dowm to the 'countryside'!

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  16. I am a very big fan of Kiwibloke. I would completely buy his point. I am sure that the much needed surgery will happen over next few decades and "India shining" would not be a distant dream. Amen!

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  17. @VA - Kiwi is a great guy, of course. India is shining even now. Its juist that all of India is not shining. Amen to your thoughts.

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