My new assignment brings me to a village in Mathura district (UP) named Chandpur Khurd. On your way from Noida to Agra, it is located off the Yamuna Expressway right where the milestone indicates distance to Mathura, 65 kilometers. As soon as you get out of the bus and walk down to service lane from the expressway, the village starts. I stay in the village with the family of the village’s head. Two huge trees stand in the front yard. Usually, I sleep under these trees at night. It is a bit cooler and also, the people here like sleeping outside in the open. The expressway is visible from my bed and I can hear the sound of cars and trucks passing by, throughout the night. The lights from the expressway cast a very beautiful scene. As a person who has stayed in the city for most parts of their life, staying in a village is a whole new experience. Everything brings me immense pleasure, even the fact that everyone here sleeps around eight every night. It reminds me that indeed life exists after eight. Normally, while lying down under the tree I look at the lights and talk to myself, after all I am the only one awake.
One night as I lay under the tree gazing at the expressway lights, I had a thought, that the expressway is a boundary between two different worlds, the city and the village, worlds that are completely opposite to each other. One is a place which sleeps at eight while the other is a place which never sleeps. One is a place where even your sneeze won’t go unnoticed whereas; on the other side we hardly care about people who live next door. One is a place where no one knows Google and the other is a place where the only thing we know is Google. One is a place where, the people will be annoyed when you talk about paying them for food and even rent (let alone taking it) and another is a place where people get angry when you are late by a day or two in paying your bills. One is a place where you have to think a lot before doing anything as, it is news that spreads like a wildfire and another is a place where everybody is busy with their own lives and you have all the freedom to do whatever you want to. One is a place which is so loud that even if people talk normally, it will gives an impression that they are fighting and other is a world where while eating even a slight sound is considered as a bad manner. And both these worlds are separated by the walls of expressway, hardly a five minute walk.
It’s been almost a week now since I started living in this village where everyone was a stranger to me in the beginning. It was like being sent to a completely different world alone and every night I used to stare at those expressway lights controlling my urge to runaway to the familiar world, which I have known and had lived in for most of my life. The urge to runaway was even more difficult to control as I knew that the other world is just a five minute walk away. But as the days passed, the urge got weaker and weaker and the tipping point was not very far, after which, there would be a turn-around and the urge to come back to this world will become stronger when I would be sitting and thinking about my volunteering times.