Friday, 22 August 2014

Memory of a joyful visit to the village


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 quite pleasant. 


The Brahma Mandir (temple). The mandir is the religious centre where villagers gather to pray and to discuss religious matters.

The Bodos are the numerically predominant ethnic and linguistic group of the Brahmaputra Valley. Apart from the country, they are also found living in different parts such as Nepal, North Bengal etc. Irrespective of their place of habitation, Bodos are maintaining their customs, tradition and language.

Breathtakingly beautiful view of Brahmaputra on way to my destination

 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 respective fields and some are even holding high profile positions in different establishments.


 The drive from Guwahati on National Highway 37 across the mighty Brahmaputra at Goalpara District is alluring. My hobby of clicking pictures which normally hibernates through my hectic work schedules, 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 turn to National Highway 31C. Our destination was Odlaguri1, Odlaguri2, Belangmari, Sahalagw and Gardenpur in Gossaigaon Sub-Division, off NH 31C. Later, the next day, we were scheduled to visit more villages namely, Dhauliguri, Komalsingh, Mwiswdanswm etc.


It is always interesting 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 heartache.


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


After the day's work, I love to enjoy the beautiful surrounding and take in the fresh fragrant air. Ah, so very peaceful!
On such an occasion, I merrily accepted the invitation of Balen and Hatorkhee Narzary, when they offered to be my hosts for the day.  Balen's family consists of his wife Hatorkhee and their ten year old daughter Udangshree.

It is a small village of about 30 families. Roads are muddy during summer but quite alright for vehicular traffic at this time of the year.


Taking our cars over two rickety bridges was indeed scary (closing my eyes I prayed throughout).
Almost all villages of Assam look the same to me. October is a nice time to take trips as one can then avoid the two extreme climatic conditions of Assam, rains and the floods. Heat too subsides by now.

A healthy crop ripening on the fields


This trip gives an idea of the simple and contented life of a common villager. A tour of their homesteads speak volume about them being very hardworking.  They have everything they need to lead a happy and fulfilling life. 


Health and sprightly activities of the poultry could make anyone jump with joy. They were a huge lot in number. Even the owner seemed to have lost count of the birds in their coop. "I think more than 60" was all he could say. Hatorkhee later informed us that she collects around twenty eggs every day from her hens. 



Started counting the ducks myself, but got tired after thirty. They seemed to enjoy making me run around the pond counting, while they dived and swam merrily. Aren't they a big, beautiful and happy family?  


Hatorkhee is a wonderful cook. I looked in awe as she cooked with apt hands occasionally replying to my endless queries. Apart from shopping for cooking oil and few other things, they grow everything they need in their fields. 


Her nieces came over to help her with the cooking. Couldn't wait to devour all the yummy dishes they were preparing. 


Ah, the meal finally! The scrumptious thali consisted of Duck curry with ash gourd (Hangshw jwng kumra wngkhree), Chicken curry with potato (Daao jwng aloo wngkhree), Pumpkin (Jwgnat bathwn) and Black lentil (Sobai wngkhree). What an appetizing flavour ! Cooking on firewood definitely enhances the taste and gives out a wonderful aroma.  


Some villagers came over to meet us. The children gathered around me as I showed them games, cartoons and pictures on the screen of my laptop. Although initially shy, eventually they turned very friendly. Few even entertained us with songs and dances. It was fun interacting and distributing sweets. 
Udangshree's happiness knew no bounds when I handed her a frock and boxes of sweets. "She is going to a school in the nearby town and learning very well." Said Balen the proud father.


 It was overwhelming finding so much joy all around. The fruits, vegetables, greenery, freshness, lovely people, their warmth ... There is something about the countryside air. It fills you with a sense of exhilaration and sets your soul free. Ah, this is it, this is called a life, a happy and contented life. 


How time flew! Sadly it was time to leave now. As we were preparing to leave, Balen threw his net in the pond and caught some fishes for us to carry home. How sincere and caring a gesture on his part! Hatorkhee packed some vegetables including couple of those small pumpkins as I loved the sweet Jwgnat bathwn she had cooked. She had taken utmost care to pack some eggs. Handing me the packet she said with her usual coy smile, "Try them, I am sure they taste nicer than your city eggs." Would love to, can't thank you enough dear, for the love and warmth you have showered on us. 
This visit will ever remain fresh and a loving memory in my heart. Will cherish this memory all my life... 

9 comments:

  1. Ba, Nice to read your post. Awesome photos.

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  2. The country side that you have pictured here looks beautiful, so heavenly.
    I must say the pictures are a reminder of what we miss in the ennui and ruckus of city life.

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    1. Thank you so much.
      Yes, I feel blessed in every single visit to be among these lovely people and their peaceful surroundings.

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  3. very nice account and beautiful pictures

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  4. beautiful post - informative and entertaining as well. pictures are awesome, very rare perhaps for anybody to witness such sceneries full of freshness and greeneries.
    bm

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a lot.
      Hey never thought you would actually drop by my space. your appreciation is very encouraging. Thank you.

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  5. I have thoroughly enjoyed this virtual trip, awesome photographs and your lucid language ...... mind blowing๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘!

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