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Snippets of village life

INDIA | Sunday, 22 July 2012 | Views [1008]

An interesting little bunch indeed....

An interesting little bunch indeed....

1st February 2012

Today from our window I watched Banmati from a distance. Her deeply weathered and line etched face a byproduct of decades of work in a harsh Himalayan environment was a picture of concentration as she sat in the sun on the cobble stone courtyard with a pile of shredded material from discarded grain bags by her side. Her gnarled fingers deftly working the material into two ply strands that she will then weave to make rope. The villagers are the ultimate recyclers. The rope will then be used to cart wood and leaves from the forest into the village.

After a few weeks of inclement weather and snow, the sunlight bestowed a feeling of 'lightness and industriousness' to the whole village as all those chores left untended are finally undertaken. Though the women secretly grateful for some fireside, chai, chatting and knitting time that snowfall proffers.

Last harvest season most crops- Mudhwa (rye),gehun (wheat) alu (potato) and Chua  (amaranth) - failed with the Rajma (red kidney beans) yeilding a smaller crop than usual. No one is sure why, reasons have ranged from a shrug of the shoulders, "too much rain", "rain came to late" or more likely other 'forces' at work. We live in a region steeped in superstition. The current barley crop is a curious shade of yellow and flat but everyone is hoping (and pujas and praying to appropriate god/esses ) that after the decent January snowfalls it will come good.

Yesterday, in Bharari, a service town full of gaudy goodies and drunken men that's roughly 60km away, ten year old Manoj fell off a verandah on the second floor onto the concrete below, smashing his femur in the process. He is currently residing in the Bageshwar hospital. Manoj has joined the ranks of an increasing number of children in the region who have been sent to school in Bharari (and adjoining Kapkote)or Bageshwar partially thanks to a declining government educational system but largely the result of 'new wealth' from last years 'Khira grass' season and the associated 'prestige' of being able to afford to send your kids to school else where. Though the 'else where' is as modest and education as questionable as the starting point.

Men make all major decisions. In a hand full of families mothers have bade all of their children farewell to only see them a couple of times a year. Grandparents (often against their will) are sent out to tend to the children frequently causing family angst and social dislocation. Manoj's mother will never have the chance to see her child during the healing process or indeed in the foreseeable future.

The Library has re-commenced for Class 1-5, this leaves me fielding daily questions from the high school kids on why we can't teach them!  The keenness of the children is such a joy. Peak continues to impart education in a fun and interactive way six days a week. A proliferation of the most beautiful artworks is draped on lines across the room filling the space with a veritable riot of colour. All children can now write their names in English. This may sound simple but when you are between five and eleven years old, your language at home is oral Pahari, your school text books are in Hindi medium and you have to learn English as a compulsory subject this is no mean feat....



p.s. The above photo: Neha, Nirmala & Mona are keen to start Class One and are 'hanging out' asking if I could start teaching "today?".... this shot was taken before classes started and was one of many daily visits before the school year commenced!

Tags: education, india, khati, recycling, uttarakhand, village life



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