Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Swades Moment

Last Sunday, Neeti and I travelled to Jambulwadi with a group of socially conscious people. Jambulwadi is a small hamlet nearly 80 kilometres from Bombay about 10 kilometres off the Nasik highway. Our cousin, Anshum, joined us for this trip.
Our objective was to help the villagers help themselves. We had organised a fruit tree plantation programme for them. The fruit trees would not only be a source of livelihood but also check soil erosion and help recharge the water table.

We left Lokhandwala at 7.45 AM in a bus - a cloudy lazy Sunday morning. We were a group of nearly 25 adults and a handful of playful kids.

Within half an hour we touched Eastern Express Highway, which in itself is a feat, given the reputation of traffic in this megapolis!

Each one of us were in very high spirits. We were all enthusiastically participating in dumb charades. For me, it was the first time - I had never done dumb charades before. But it was indeed a thrilling experience. All this proves only one thing - the city really sucks you dry. And every opportunity to get away does help, so to say, to recharge one's "batteries"!

Stopped at a roadside eatery for a quick breakfast and then continued on towards Jambulwadi.It's amazing how the countryside turns green on the onset of the Monsoons. The varied hues of green are a treat for the eyes. It's always wonderful to see the colors that Nature shows us. But do we have the time is the biggest question.At Jambulwadi, we were given a traditional welcome with a tikka, a wild flower bouquet and a welcome song by the tribal schoolgirls. We had taken biscuits for the village kids. The peels of glee and joy from little village kids was an expression of pure emotion, which is again so hard to find in the city.Our group then proceeded to the fields to plant the saplings. The children accompanying us enthusiastically participated in planting the trees. After completing the plantation, we trekked down towards the small rivulet. It was a wonderful steep trek down with birds chirping and the clean fresh air, that we all yearn for. Almost the entire group, kids and the elderly, took to the stream like ducks to the water. A few kids went about searching for fish in the rivulet.

The villagers told us that they had to fetch water from the rivulet at least three times a day. It must be quite a task to trek up and down the steep valley. We very often take water and electricity for granted, but it's a completely different matter in the countryside. Makes me think there are two Indias - one with plenty and the other which barely survives. I am told eastern India is worse off in that sense.
On the way back, we saw men ploughing the land and women planting paddy. Barely do we appreciate the effort that goes into growing the food that we consume. Silently, I saluted these hardworking men and women who toil for their existence.

Truly, a Swades moment, as Anshum had put it....

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