Thursday, November 08, 2007

Rural Bengal

My work with Airtel took me to rural bengal. Though I've spent my formative years in Bengal, my life was limited to Kolkata, with yearly visits to my grandpa's place in Dushghara (a town in WB, basically a village). My knowledge of village life and conditions were all that I assimilated during those visits...

My project needed me to travel. From Kolkata to Murshidabad's interior and almost inaccessible villages. More than a week on the road on a Tata Indica. I was lucky, the driver didn't declare a bandh against me even as some political groups brought bengal to a standstill. Clocking almost 10-12 hours a day, with a hurried breakfast and no lunch. I think it was a little better than MTV Roadies 5.0....at least, I was not a bike on the bumpy roads.

It was a learning experience. Life in the village is much tougher...made me thank God for being born and brought up in a city. People have more time on their hands...the idea of telecommunication is yet to catch up. Coz, most often it is "word-of-mouth" and face to face.

These guys stay together, and know each other...so a shopkeeper knows his customer much better than a city guy would ever know. People talk and discuss more, with more time on their hands. The need to communicate on the phone arises when one wants to travel, or show the fact that he's better off than the rest of his kind. Certain answers, which I would have never been able to get from a city shopkeeper seemed like obvious knowledge to a small retailer in a village.
Events that would not draw a glance in the city attract crowds in villages :D
The travel helped me know a little more about bengal...a mixture of good and not-so-good memories.

Back in time for Diwali, or Kali Puja as we call it here. My car was stopped "n" number of times on the roads in the villages, as young men blocked the road till they were paid the customary "chanda" for the puja. Being back, I love my life here more than I did when I went there.

Happy Diwali!
:D

6 Comments:

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