Monday, 5 May 2008

Madhya Pradesh Diaries - II

One day we ask a villager why he wants to buy a colour television, his first, in the 45 years of his life. He replies with all seriousness, “Because my wife told me too.” All the men – different strata, culture, society, country - errupt into a laughter, their private joke of hen pecked husbands and nagging wives.

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Yet another day, a woman separating chaff from wheat calls a child to sit next to her as we film her activities. The man standing next to me says, “ These women. They have no sense. Uski photo keech rahe hai aur who bacchey ko bula rahi hai….” He suddenly stops as he realizes I am standing next to him.


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Another day. We meet a farmer who earns about $3 a day to feed his family of eight. He rues why he toils so hard to grow wheat if the government is filling its buffer stock, when he has to eat two meals a day because he can’t afford three. His eyes heavy with emotion, helplessness, he turns to ask, “Main yeh dharti kyu cheerta hoon? Sirf isliye ki bebas reh saku?”. At first I am moved and then a thought crosses my mind, if his dialogue is a story set for us journalists. The cynic in me peeps out and I feel ashamed.

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A man in starch white kurta payajama stands in the middle of a field, the hot winds - loo hits us but there is a smile on his face. His 82 acre land produces so much of wheat, gram, pluses and soybean that he will earn millions when he sells his stock. The land, which he stands on, is worth billions.


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While in Bhopal one day, staying in my fancy 5 hotel, travelling in the stuffy official car to all the villages, I desire to break free. As I hop into an auto rickshaw outside the hotel, the manager spots me and asks “Madam why did you walk till the gate? We could have called the auto inside.” He tells me it’s a regular thing. I am amazed they do that here. The fancy hotel in the city is not like the ones in Delhi.

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I go to the Old Market in the city. It is like walking in the bylanes of Old Delhi, men with skull caps and women in burkha mill around. I am an anomaly there, an outsider. But I enjoy it. And there is a Jama Masjid and a chor bazaar just like Delhi. I am homesick again.

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As the heat rises from the earth, bare trees spead their branches, like arms raised towards the sky, a plea for the sun to stop beating down so mercilessly, for rain gods to pour down.

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After a tiring day, I recline in the seat of my car, I look outside and find electricity transmission lines running along, the cables playing a game, meeting at the poles - coming together, falling apart, almost teasing each other and playing catch. It reminds me of my childhood - watching the electicity poles, the sugar cane fields, sitting in the backseat, staring at the horizon as both merge into one another, while going to visit my grandmother in dusty heartlands of Uttar Pradesh.

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On the highway, I pass by a school building under construction. Th name of the school - Campion School. If the school authorities meant to write 'champion' then I am really worried what the childen will learn in a school whose name is spelt wongly. If it isn't, then I am worried that the name of the school has no meaning. And then I wonder why I worry so much!

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23 comments:

Prasad said...

man this is so cool...u get to travell so much!!!!!

Vrij said...

Awesome.. simply awesome.. I wish I could travel wid u :)

taureandude_23 said...

hi NG
wonderful account. one really gets a firsthand knowledge of how to derive pleasure from simple moments of life amongst the villagers. their laughter is so full of heart and contagious.

i really enjoyed the last para. the "Old Market" circuit is there almost everywhere. the crowded bazaars, men in skull caps, Masjids, well it can be Mumbai's Bhendi Bazaar or Hyderabad's Charminar area or Kolkata's Chandni Chowk (yeah Kolkata to has a Chandni Chowk) or your Bhopal marketplace, the ambience seems very familiar. I enjoy jaywalking in such places. Food is a definite incentive in such places and great lip smacking delicacies at that.

Enjoy you travels:D Awaiting the further parts:D

take care
ciao

Mann said...

Enjoyed the second part as well!!

By the way of which TV channel?? And when your "this programme will be telecast??

--- And then I wonder why I worry so much! Because you BELONG TO "WORRIED LOT"!!!
:-)

I sincerely wish that your this habit of "worrying about such matters" never leaves you ever.

But still keep smiling!!

Mann

n.aka.zephyr said...

hey Pras
it looks cool but living out of a suitcase for a month is not fun all the time :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

vrij,
right no i am soooo tired... i wish you were travelling instead of me :D

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey TD,
the life in the villages is so different.. i wouldn't say its simpler... they have their set of difficulties but maybe its not as complicated as our....

kolkata has a chandni chowk???? i didn't know that... i think jay walking alone for women in such places is not that fun... but its interesting...

n.aka.zephyr said...

hey mann,

yeh toh top secret sawaal pooch liya aapney :D

this habit of worrying is turning my hair grey :D :D but i'll keep smiling

you too take care!!

Mann said...

Yaar mujhey nahi pata tha ki TV journalism mein kaam karna bhi itna TOP secret ho sakta hei-----

:-) !!!

Honestly, if you think I am intruding your privacy then I will not ask you!!!

However,if you don't like to tell on a public forum then you may send the information at my email address.

mann2101@yahoo.com

You believe it or not, I asked you because of the following reason.

Actually I stopped watching TV programmes of all kind including NEWS because their presentation is pathetic. So when I read about your topics and that you are from TV journalism, I thought of asking you
for which TV channel you are working so that I could watch it as I believe you must have put in your sincere efforts --------- [and express my opinion which may be useful to you :-)].

Take care
Mann

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi Mann,

I don't work for an Indian news channel... :)

Some of the Indian channels also show good documentary programmes.. You should watch CNN-IBN and NDTV.. Don't lose hope in Indian media...

Mann said...

Hi,

Thanks for suggestion!! I will try!
Mann

chandni said...

MP!!! My land my land!!!

:)

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Mann
Welcome anytime :)

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Chandni,
I didn't know you were from MP!! I am now in another state and missing MP already :)

Mann said...

By the way what kind of documentary or story are you doing? Just curious as you shifted to another state! Any clue??
Mann

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi mann,
Its on rural india...

Pramod said...

Wonderful being in the fields and meeting the people who grow our food. Am sure its an experience u'd cherish.

Loved the bit about watching teh electricity lines. I was on a bus this weekend with colleagues back from a company confernce and I was still looking at the very same things I looked at while on a bus as a kid - the driver manouvering the bus , the road ahead and the scenes on teh sides.

Kanno said...

good blog. keep going!

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hey Pram,
It is a wonderful experience indeed... never thought i would get to go to all these places and meet these people :)

But i've been living out of a suitcase for more than a month and i have a few more weeks to go... that's the difficult part as time passes by :)

Sometimes life takes us back and forward at the same time- weird na! Its been happening quite frequently in the last few weeks for me....

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi Kanno,
Thanks!
And welcome to my blog..

Kamesh said...

Hi N :)
Am returning after another long spell of absence :D:D
That is a really good account..
Can't say much about your worries and queries.. but to the best of my knowledge, there's nothing wrong with Campion school..
It is among the oldest (estb. 1965) and most reputed schools of Bhopal, named after St. Edmund Campion, a sixteenth century English Jesuit who was also the Patron of the School.
yeh highway wala uska branch hoga..
Ab kahan ho and when are u returning?

n.aka.zephyr said...

Hi Kamesh,
Oh... thanks for the gyan... nahi toh i was so stressed out.. :D

I have hopped over two more states after that and today i am back in delhi for 3 days... what bliss... i'll actually get to sleep in my own bed!!!!!

and then i am travelling again across three states for a couple of weeks...

Puneet said...

Seems like you just boast of travelling because if you haven't heard of St. Edmund Campion and the schools, then you must be blind visiting places. And you say that the authorities meant to write champion, I wonder what your school taught ya. haha. visiting places and going blind. haha