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Never Ending Journey

Things can neither be clear nor be unclear, if you don’t expect them to go in a certain way. That is how I start every journey of mine, and never expect it to end. The previous night ended late and disastrous, yet I had a good night sleep. Woke up to the noises of our facilitators shouting at me for not waking up as early as I was supposed to … I always thought it was fine to be late if you are traveling. You can always blame the Indian public transport for not being on time and rest assured. So we started off from KVK, took an auto rickshaw to the bus station where we could get a bus to Kherwara.

It started off with the bus conductor printing out a long ticket and handed it over. After some very deep and entertaining conversation with the fellows, we reached Rishabgad where we had to meet some volunteers who would take us through the village and to our hosts. So we visited Kikabai which was a Jain shrine and work place of Jatan which is an organization working for the welfare of girl child and their health care. There we were briefed about our host families and then started off to Kherwara. We took a bus to Kherwara and reached our meeting place with the volunteers. I was expecting my host to be in a tribal attire with some interesting draped saree and a lot of piercings. On contrary, she was in a normal dress, minimal piercings, could speak Hindi and had a beautiful smile.  She lead us to her village Sundara from there.

The first glance I could get once I got down from the auto rickshaw was the Panchayat on the main road which we decided to ignore for the first day. It was the whole imagination I had about a Rajasthani village which made me stop and think twice because it did not have camels and men with huge turbans. They were ‘normal’ people living under thatched roof, muddy walls and cement flooring. Women who greeted us wore no veil to cover their face and very much open to talk. The village had good transportation facility as it fell on the Udaipur-Ahmedabad highway. It comprised of almost 20 families, most of them from the same family and caste. They spoke in Wagadi which derived its roots from Mewadi spoken around the region. The village was serene and calm, no other sounds other than mows of cows and birds chirping.

The conversations were very minimal. It was a good start, they did not chase us out of their house, and instead they pitied on us and offered to stay with them for the next two days. After we were accepted, we introduced ourselves to the whole family, I had a good feeling, it is going to be safe and fun. Once we had our head start it was time to take a stroll around the village greeting every random person who stared at us, it was a good way to turn stares into smiles and namaste. We heard some stories from people, we made some people hear ours, though it was pretty evident that most of them were suspecting our identity and eyeing on us. The evening went well with progressive conversation and then dinner with the family. A good night to end with.

The next  morning, we were served breakfast right after we came out with our brushed teeth, they were actually waiting with plates serving paranthas and chai. We had a good chat with the family about their culture, hows and whys. They were a complete vegetarian colony, largely dependent on men who were working in the nearby towns and some own business in Udaipur. They were well to do. They had no alcoholism or any other addiction issues. The other colony visible was of the Brahmins who stayed a little away from this colony as their lands were located in that part of the village. The village almost had 3-4 hamlets, where the rest two had alcoholism and other issues, as we were told. They grew their own vegetables, rice and corn. If not, they would get vegetables from the nearby town and pretty much content with what they had. After an hour long conversation, we went on our second stroll and met some more, went up and down hill, watched people fishing, shepherd grazing sheep and shouting at us in Wagadi … we smiled most of the time in response.

By the time we reached back home, the women were preparing dough for the evening meal. We helped them in cooking bhatis and tried learning some Wagadi. It wasn’t a failure as it was fun. The family got closer to us by the end of the night. We had dinner together and shared some great moments for which we would remember each other for at least the coming two days. The story is always incomplete to me. Wherever I go, whoever I meet, there is always more untold than shared. Great things to be shared or could be shared, great moments can never have an ending.

Saumithra Goutham

Saumithra Goutham, 28 years, Graduation in Design. Worked for a year in different setups as a graphic and fashion designer. Fellow at Odesh, Thoubal, Manipur supporting the local artisans create meaningful design and markets for their handicrafts and art forms for better livelihoods.

One thought on “Never Ending Journey

  1. Very interesting how you have documented the observations in detail. Looking forward to read more of your field stories and insights since you are in a geography and culture, i personally have no insights into. Looking forward to learn from you through your reflections here.

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