Three Days In Rural Rajasthan
“I have never even seen Jaipur properly,” he laughingly replies in broken English when I ask him whether he has ever traveled to see the neighbouring states of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. “In fact,” he adds, “I haven’t even spent one night outside of this farm.” I look up from my plate of simple, delicious Rajasthani food to observe him, struggling to make out the emotion on his face half illuminated by the fire of the outdoor stove. His farm has had no electricity for a few days now thanks to a bunch of dim witted construction workers who managed to cut an important cable somehow. He’s spent the last couple of days driving around his motorcycle with two co-passengers behind him for three to four hours on each day fighting with a multitude of people who couldn’t be less bothered about the loss of electricity on a few farms to get the repair work done faster, and in the sun of course (which had already asserted its superiority in its battle with me). However, the large sum of money required to repair the cable had to come from the government, and already everyone involved had lowered their expectations. Yet here Maliram ji was, sitting seemingly contentedly with a half-visible optimistic little wrinkle playing on his face.
His wife, Manju didi, sits on the ground not far from me, toiling away at the stove. She’s been working hard for the past hour under the light of Maliram ji’s small cellphone. There have been times in the past during my stay when I’ve just felt like hugging her to encourage her and show my gratitude. Of course, one cannot simply go and hug somebody else’s wife in rural India; my urban instincts needed to be curbed. She runs around the farm all day taking care of the cattle, cooking food, entertaining visitors, and serving lazy guests like me. She still refuses to accept any help. This has left me in a dilemma. How do I express my gratitude? I can feel the positive energy radiate out of her even as she sits on the ground cooking in the darkness.
“It is hard work,” she tells me, “I have no time to do anything but work on the farm. I do really look forward to my three children coming back to me every weekend though. I live through the week for it.” I smile at her spirit, not knowing what to say…
I spent three days at Nirvana Organic Farm, an hour from Jaipur, a wonderful three days where I was taken care of as if I were family, and an insightful three days as I learnt more about life in a place as far removed from Mumbai as possible both in its culture and nature.