Sitting on the top of the jeep and initiating my journey to get a glimpse of what my next 13 months might look like gave me a lot of goosebumps. The day before we started our journey, I was told that I will be going to a village called Anela, where I have to interact with the community and understand what the life looks like in the rural community. At the end moment when we were just about to leave for the rural immersion, our groups were changed and suddenly I realized that I will be going to a village called Upla Thuriya instead of Anela, I reacted very calmly but my heart was giving me horrors, I never change my plans at last moment, but I went with the flow, my poker face saved the day for me.
I was trying hard to wrap my mind around this, I didn’t know how would an extremely introvert and individualistic person like me go out in the community and talk to the villagers and not only that I was also expected to understand what they are going through. Clearly this was a big task for me, rarely does any sort of emotion touch me and now this herculean task of understanding other people’s emotion. I was quite scared honestly, not of the logistical shortcomings that I was going to face but because of the fact that I will go there and not feel/understand anything at all and also the thought of spicy food was enough to elevate my heart beat exponentially. All of these thoughts were enough to give me a panic attack while I was sitting on the top of the jeep, adding to that was the humorous conversation with a drunk guy sitting next to me on the jeep who was leaning on me so that he would not fall – I peacefully listened to what he had to say and just nodded along to avoid a complicated conversation.
Finally, we reached the village, very difficult for me to call it a village, a bunch of semi-detached houses in the middle of low lying hills. As soon as we entered the house where we had to stay, we were greeted by a middle-aged lady, who seemed not very happy to see us. I was dying out guilt, to intrude into someone else’s house and feeling like an uninvited guest, for a very obvious reason, I would never accept anyone in my house unless they are invited by me. The expression on the face of the lady seemed very hostile, as if she was not at all happy to see us in her house, but I was very wrong to make that assumption. The very next minute we were served tea, which is one of the best teas I have ever had. I consider myself as a person who can make fairly good tea but our host in the village just blew my mind and raised the bar very high forever now. Once the guy who was accompanying us left we were all by ourselves, we had to figure out how to survive the next 2 days.
By every passing minute my heart beat was elevating because of my guilt of harassing someone in their day-to-day life. We went out for a small walk in the evening to explore the area around the village. We had the most wonderful dinner once we were back to our host, the wheat chapattis with rice was delicious. We slowly understood the family dynamics and tried to talk to as many family members as we could by using the silent technique. I interacted with the eldest son in the family who was leaving for Kuwait in the night to, where he works as a decorator and earns fair amount of money to support his family back home. I had many interactions over the next 2 days, but the one that stuck with me the most or rather impacted me the most was one with the lady who greeted us in the beginning.
I have to admit, I have never seen a woman so straightforward in my entire life. She speaks her mind, never did she try to patronize me by fabricating harsh facts into soothing words, which is what I like the most. I prefer to have a conversation which does not involve any sugarcoating. She asked me lot of questions about myself and tried to convey a very straightforward message to me. The content of the conversation is not very important in this case but the manner in which the message was conveyed tells us a lot about the state of the world we live in today.
We live in a world where people try to be nice to each other by using a medium of communication we call language. There is a very famous quote that goes something like this ‘People became hypocrite the day language was invented’, I think this is as true as it gets. People most of the times do not recognize their own thoughts just because they have never tried to actually convey it.
The irony of being nice to others even when we know that they are doing something we don’t like is what kills me, I cannot do that. My conversation with this lady left me awestruck and just reminded me of how urbanization has changed the way we communicate with people in the community. I think that honesty and straightforwardness which is very integral part of communication is lost somewhere and for those 2 days, i was just glad to have got it back.