Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Gas Cylinder for the Village

 




Gas cylinders for all. A celebrated cause !!
We have lived in Paalaguttapalle Dalitwada for 20 years. In the village. In a mud house. Cooking on firewood.
Cooking on firewood daily. Once that is the pattern, we all ensure good dry firewood. It just needs some planning. The firewood needs to be cut a stacked a couple of months before use. We all do it. Dry wood does not smoke.
I can vouch for that as its 20 years of use.For me, for my daughter. Daily, twice. As all our neighbours.
And for our village fuel was free. No cost. Rayalseema is a dry area, and firewood is there for the cutting.
Free fuel. No cost. And no exploitation.
The stories behind petroleum dependence begin with wars and end with climate change.
But we the privileged. Instead of reducing our carbon footprint,. Instead of questioning our fossil fuel dependence. Celebrate it.
And teach every self sufficent community that it is aspirational.
And my village. A community of landless labour. Today buys gas at 800/- a cylinder, in preferance to firewood available outside the doors.
And loses scarce cash for this ...
I stay silent. What voice do we the privileged have to preach simplicity to a community, given our own excesses in the face of their simple and sustainable lives.
And yet I grieve.



Andhuvan Dhanesh You are encouraging deforestation and voicing against clean energies. 😅

You should not speak about self sufficiency. You have to be dependent on government looking forward for their subsidies and ,and to the middle eas, and to globalisation of businesses. 😌

Those years in the village


Some memories, some stories.
Some growing up. Some humbling down.
When I moved to the village. Twenty years ago. I was a throughbred urban.
Every Friday we would all go to the weekly santa, market. At Kommireddigaripalle. 4 km away. Where all the producers from neighbouring villages would bring their vegetables, fruits, pots to sell.
It look me a few times, more than that, to realize that I was the only character there who would bargain. Not a soul would.
They were all at the brink of survival. They knew the hard work that goes into growing crops. They respect the producer and the product.
A disconnected urban, myself, could not. Then.
There are many many such stories. And none pretty.
A village taught me of my privilege, and the associated pettiness that goes with it. Like nothing else could have.
A village taught me of the greatness of the peoples of this land. The simple people. And my own smallness.
Difficult lessons. But the most important lessons I have learnt. In my life.

Those years in a village


Some memories, some stories.
Some growing up. Some humbling down.
When I moved to the village. Twenty years ago. I was a throughbred urban.
Every Friday we would all go to the weekly santa, market. At Kommireddigaripalle. 4 km away. Where all the producers from neighbouring villages would bring their vegetables, fruits, pots to sell.
It look me a few times, more than that, to realize that I was the only character there who would bargain. Not a soul would.
They were all at the brink of survival. They knew the hard work that goes into growing crops. They respect the producer and the product.
A disconnected urban, myself, could not. Then.
There are many many such stories. And none pretty.
A village taught me of my privilege, and the associated pettiness that goes with it. Like nothing else could have.
A village taught me of the greatness of the peoples of this land. The simple people. And my own smallness.
Difficult lessons. But the most important lessons I have learnt. In my life.

A customers thoughts - Kriti Bharadwaj

A gift from Palaguttapalle (Chittoor, Andhra Pradesh).
*******
I received these bags on Saturday afternoon. I wanted to rip off the package and distribute them to everyone in the bank, but I am glad I thought better of it. They are very sturdy and cute, and perhaps one of the last deaperate attempts at livelihood. I bought ten of them and have only been giving away to like minded friends.
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While our unapologetic, brainwashed, consumerist lifestyles keep siphoning away life from our rural hinterlands, megalomaniac stunts like demonetization literally crush the life out of informal economy. Failed crops, deliberate marginalization, gambling education, and repeated humiliation by asserting that somehow they need to be “salvated”by the likes of us, we make a mockery of a self sufficient economy and feed off it like thieves. We, who have not known these uncomplaining shoulders at all. We, who have our heads and eyes in bubbles for so long that we have the audacity to “speak for them”without the courage or integrity to share with them.
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Countless Varalus, Eashwarammas, Anithas, Annapurnas are rendered hungry at the mercy of our “obligation “ and “generosity”when we decide to buy what they need to sell.
We may want to clearly strike a difference between our needs and wants. We may then gradually do away with the latter and supply the former with needs of others.
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Poverty is not an alien infestation. It’s a crime. A crime we are all guilty of. A disease which is man-made and is deliberately kept alive. One which breeds many more with it. It takes tremendous honesty and self-reflection to even be aware of the hundred thousand privileges we are born with. Yes, I know the metaphysical answers of the nature of duality, the non judgmental, guilt- free experience of the physical drama, the illusion of finite resources and the possibility of overflowing abundance in all spheres of life. It is, however, something which continues to ache me and confuse me. We need to buy what our informal economy has to sell. If they perish, they atleast know it. We think we thrive on capitalism, but we are already dead and not even aware of it.
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I don’t know many Aparnas out there, today. I m not sure if they wish to be known either. I thank her and she dismisses it...Much thanks for the bags, the blogs, the stories,the pictures, the milk, the aswagandhadi, the gods, the rituals, the school, the cattle, the jallikattu, the annadanams, the sangatis, the muggus and the commitment to do it all. Much love and best wishes to you all. 

Those years in school

When I look back at my socializing through childhood and youth I am appalled. Completely.
Till 5th class I lived in my own world. Oblivious to social perceptions. I was given a double promotion from 1st to 3rd class, and I never coped with that jump. From first in class I retreated to last in class. And lived in my world of stories and story books and dreams. Happily.
And then the age of innocence ended.
From 6th onwards, and after a change of school, I was also in the game of marks and ranks. With everyone else. Trying to do well. Comparing. Coming first in class was an end in itself. Low marks was an end.
Feeling smarter than some. Feeling dumber than some. Losing myself. Into the norms defined by a killer society.
Through school it worsened. When I didnt get into IIT it meant I was useless. Worthless. There were those who got in and were Heros and Heroines.
When I got into IISc later it was a validation. I did not realize that that I was simply getting more trapped into dancing to the tunes of society. Like a monkey.
What saved me was a persistent concern. Against the imbalances, against the poverty. A deep inner revolt against all this that was there since early teens.
Which took me out of this race I was in. To a village. Wise. Compassionate. Where I saw in their greatness and simplicity, the shallowness of my being. Again and again.
And where the true heroes of this land live. Work. Sustain this land with their sweat. With simple generosity.
Which showed me starkly. How much damage in the urban world we inflict. On ourselves first. And then on all others. Driving deeper this malaise of comparing. Of feeling winners and losers. Unaware that both the winner and the loser lose. Their souls.

Those years abroad.

Long time ago.

After finishing college I worked in computer firms for 2 years, and spent a year in US on the same work. Then I retired. To my village.

The year in US was revealing in many ways. To me it was just a stay to earn some money. I knew that after that my next phase would begin, of 'searching for a village'.

To almost everyone else there from India it was the beginning of a new life in a chosen world. A world much desired. And I watched as they tried to adapt. Changed clothing to fit in. Changed accents to fit in. Changed themselves to belong.

And I was aware of my own reaction. My workplace dress was stubbornly salwar kameez chunni in a sea of skirts and shorts and trousers. And as the year wore on it moved to sarees.

My accent became more and more Indian. My English developed a Tamil accent that it had never had.
I was never happier than when I set foot on my soil again. Have never stepped out of this country after that. Never stepped into a plane after that.

The desh, the bhoomi, the land, claims its own. In many ways.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Cycle shop tales

Simple lives. Simple spaces.
Important livlihoods. Sustaining other simple lives.

The tyres hanging on the branch of the tree on the footpath. The mark of a cycle repair shop. 

Visible from afar to those who need these. Invisible to lives which zoom by in air-conditioned comfort.

Night 8pm. My rattling chain guard was fixed. Neatly, competently. With a sure hand. Every bend neatly straightened with the hammer. Each vscrew in perfect position.

A Master at work.