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Through rural Gujarat

This state is unique because of the prohibition on alcohol. No liquor is available to the common man.

This seems like a simple and minor fact but it impacts the entire mentality of all the people raised here. Vice beyond their financial means does not tempt the men here. The frustrations of life, do not translate into alcohol consumption and alcohol does not compete for the funds that could go toward family food. (And in poor countries this makes a huge difference). The women are therefore happier, as they face no conflict on this issue. There is a good deal of gender respect and gender comfort – which is absent across the state border.

The land here is rich and prosperous and life in general is good. A year ago, as I was on a happy train journey from Goa to Mumbai, the route was lined with inviting green fields. The farmers, the bulls – all sowed a tempting travel idea in my head. Today as I passed on narrow 1-lane roads through the fields, I realized that I was living that dream.

Unfortunately the reality wasn’t as romantic as the wistful idea had seemed at that time. It may be that I am travel weary. It may be that they spark is gone. Or it may simply be that I am spoilt by too much travel into these beautiful villages! But some sights managed to cut through the strangler figs that were gripping my desensitized numbed out heart….and I missed my camera terribly.

In every field we passed, a farmer nudged his yoked bulls – bulls that were tall and handsome, with their horns reaching out in elegant curves towards the sky – making them much taller than the farmer that commanded them. Ever single pair of bullocks was taller than their owner. Beautiful beasts. Shapely graceful heads, shapely yokes, earth toned skin, pleasing soft intelligent eyes and majestic horns. Completely unlike their un-beautiful jersey cousins. Walking all day long, dragging a till, with their handsome masters pushing them. Simple tools. No need for petrol or diesel or electricity. Simple living. Hard living. But self sustained living. No debilitating dependence on corporates such as BP or Toyota.

The men and women and their attires are eye candy in themselves. The women, with red and blue and orange – any three contrasting bright colors will do – speckle the fluorescent green fields. And the men wear white, but their turbans folded with technical but rustic precision, are always bright – blue or magenta or orange or…With their long black moustaches, tall slim figures, thick earrings in each lobe, a large silver ankle piece, a uniquely tied dhoti, and short white shirts…these men make a visual that is as beautiful as the women.

Living as a large family group or a clan they that live together in a village and share resources and assets – such as a thousand cows. In one such clan I noticed that several men wore a dhoti that was green with red borders. Maybe this is a clan signature… something to explore on the next trip…

The background setting for these beautiful people: infinite green blankets of freshly sprouted ‘arhar’ stretching across in all directions uninterrupted, with a peacock or two for color accents; grey monsoon clouds that curtain a small yellow sun that has been washed pale by the rains.

The road continues. My journey continues.

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This entry was posted on August 4, 2010 by in Culture Kaleidoscope.

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