Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kabir Arora's Village Immersion: Ram Kahani Begins

Last month, we published Kabir Arora's notes from his work in a Jaitpura school.  This month, he's sent us his reflections on the time he spent learning more about village life.
“This land derives its driving force and momentum from people formed and raised in the country side with the vigor given by direct work; from those genuine spirits who carry within themselves an original and insuperable strength-not from these impotent raised by anxious parents and irascible school teachers in schools of mere words where one learns barely more than an apparent way of satisfying needs that stem of instinct”.
---Jose Marti in “A false concept of public education”-La Nacion.

From a very long time, I'd been feeling like an impotent raised to satisfy the needs which originated from the instinct. To get out of this structured life, I decided to find Gandhi in the villages of India. Now I am sitting in Khetari, writing the story of Village immersion which I completed few days back. Village immersion is a second step after Learning Quality (LQ)Training in Gandhi Fellowship Programme. I completed my LQ in Jaitpura (Udaipurvati). Second step was placed in Churu hundred kilometers away. A long journey began!

Likh kabir ki bani likh
Fir Meera diwani likh
Pehle to kuch akshar soch
Tab akshar mein manni likh
Aasman mein gheerte badal
Badal mein to pani likh
Shor sharaba cheekh pukar
Kavita mein virani likh
Krishan kahani kucch nahi
Apni Ram kahani likh... (Krishan Kalpit)

My Ram Kahani begins on 6th September, 2010 when I reached Churu. The village alloted to me was Lohsana Chhota, 40 Kms away from the main city. My bus was at twelve o'clock. But I left my place at ten itself and reached the bus stop at ten thirty. There was one chai ka thela. I ordered a cup for myself, next to me an old man was sitting. He was passing his time while listening to songs played in the next shop. I ordered a cup of tea for myself to begin a conversation with the chai waala.  

Namkeen Chai!
The intention behind the order was to know about the bus arrival. While waiting for the bus, the old man kept staring at me. After my initial introduction, he started asking me questions about Punjab (my home-state). He commented on the girls passing by, and later passed a comment that my eyes have Kashish. My mother used to say the same thing in old times. Later he turned to the beauty of girls in and around my village. “The girls there are beautiful but have no dressing sense”, were his words. Maybe he was referring to traditional outfits which women wear in villages.  

The bus arrived. The journey to that village itself was a unique experience. Sitting on the roof of the bus, head covered with Gamcha, butts like paranthas baked in tandoor. Fear in the heart whether I’ll get a home to stay or not, prepared for the worst case scenario.

Suddenly Bhagirath ji, Headmaster of the school appeared on the road to stop the bus. Fully baked, I got down from the bus and entered Rajkiya Ucch Primary School-Gram Chhota Lohsana, constructed by Panchayat Samiti-Barra Lohsana. My school was between Dhakkan Ka Baas and Lohsana Chhota. There were few questions and queries about my prospective presence in the village and work details.  I met him in a workshop organized in Jaipur. So I was aware of his nature to an extent. Our conversation concluded with an idea proposed by him that I should stay at his place, which is in Dhakkan Ka Baas (Baas Dhakkan). I accepted the offer with no hesitation. Jose Marti's On Education and Totto Chan accompanied me on this journey. I was sitting in a small village of 220 houses-in the mid of nowhere, reading about Hispano-America and Japan, two extremes of the world map. 

I reached back home, there was an initial introduction with Bhagirath ji's brother who was staying next door in the same courtyard. 

Later in the evening, I started writing a diary (after a long time), I felt like documenting each every incident so that I can turn back to it. First day while writing, an old man and a young man were sitting and  staring at me constantly, innocent faces full of curiosity. I was feeling shy, kept my eyes down in the diary. Summed up my day with lot of rotis, Kachari ki sabzi and a huge bowl of curd as my dinner around seven thirty in the evening, went to sleep at nine.
For more of Kabir's experiences, see:
If I were my own teacher: confidence, colour and voices
Steep Climb 
Tourist Guide  

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