Thursday, 21 August 2014

A wonderful experience of joyful rural life (old)

The Bodos are the numerically predominant ethnic and linguistic group of the Brahmaputra Valley. They are also found living in different parts such as Nepal, North Bengal, Nagaland etc. Irrespective of their place of habitation, Bodos are maintaining their customs, tradition and language. 
The Bodos lead a simple pastoral and bucolic life, the practice of which in modern times is called the slow food, i e, "growing locally" and "eating locally", which is now espoused by the Slow Food International. 
With the changing times many of them are now scattered all over the globe doing extremely well in their fields and some holding high profile positions in different establishments. 

My work often takes me to remote villages of Assam and interact with the underprivileged. Like many previous occasions, I took a trip last October to a few villages of Bodo dominated Kokrajhar district when the summer heat started subsiding making the weather enjoyable. 

The drive from Guwahati on National Highway 37 across the Brahmaputra river at Goalpara district is beautiful. My hobby of clicking pictures which generally hibernates through my hectic work schedule, wakes up on these trips as a result I end up reaching my destination hours behind expected time. 

Bifurcating from Rakhaldubi (before reaching Bongaigaon), we take National Highway 31C. Our destination was Odlaguri1, Odlaguri2, Belangmari, Sahalagw and Gardenpur in Gossaigaon Sub-Division, off NH 31C. Later, the  next day of course we were scheduled to visit more villages namely, Dhauliguri, Komolsingh, Mwiswdanswm etc. 

It is always wonderful interacting with these simple village folks. 

Their loving nature and innocence have always filled me with warmth. No wonder their simplicity has at times made them vulnerable to a lot of trouble and heart ache. 

We are working on a dozen different programmes in the field of woman and child care, under the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Govt of India. On this occasion I was there to conduct several workshops on awareness and establish creches for the underprivileged children in all the above mentioned villages.  

After the meeting got over, I visited Hatorkhee and Khanen Narzary's home. It is a small village of around 30 families. Roads in the village during summer will be muddy, but now it is dry and could drive through.  

Taking our cars over two rickety bridges was quite scary (closing my eyes I prayed throughout). 
Almost all villages of Assam look the same. October is a nice time to visit I guess, as one can then avoid the two extremes in the State of Assam, the rains and the floods. The heat too is tolerable. 

This trip gives an idea of the simple and contented life of a common villager.  
A tour of their homestead speaks volume about their being very hard working. They have everything one needs to lead a happy and fulfilling life. Could see a healthy crop ripening on their fields. 

The health of poultry and the number can make anyone joyful. Even the owner seems to have lost count of the chicks in their coop, "More than 60" is all he could say. Minimum 10 eggs are laid everyday. 

Started counting the ducks myself, but got tired after 30 as they were mostly in the pond. They all look so healthy and happy. 

Hatorkhee is a great cook. Watching her cooking was a wonderful experience. She prepared a sumptuous meal of Duck with Ash gourd (Hangshw jwng kumra jwng), Chicken with potato (Daao jwng aloo jwng), Pumpkin (Jwgnat bathwn) and Black lentil (Sobai wngkhree). The flavour of the dishes was awesome as they were cooked on firewood. 

Their only child, a 10 year old daughter was so happy as I handed the boxes of sweets and a dress I had taken for her. "She is going to a school in the nearby town and learning well", said the proud father Khanen

Quite a few people gathered in their home to meet us, including children. It was fun talking and distributing loads of sweets and eatables among them.

It was overwhelming seeing so much joy in the form of fruits, vegetables, greenery, freshness... "Ah" I said, "This is it, this is called a happy and healthy life."

Khanen threw his net in the pond and caught some fishes for us to carry home as we were preparing to leave. It was a sincere and caring gesture on his part. Hatorkhee packed some vegetables, including couple of small round pumpkins as I loved the sweet 'jwgnat bathwn' she had served with meal. She took utmost care to pack some eggs saying, "Try them, they taste nice". I said, "Will sure do, cant thank you enough dear, for the love and warmth you have showered on us." This visit can never be forgotten. Will cherish the lovely time all my life...

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