Rural Immersion Program – Exploration by Avnish Gaurav

A particular day in Musmuna

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Musmuna, a village 2 KMs from Yamuna and 5 KMs from Haryana border is one of its kinds. All govt. institutions – school, panchayat bhavan, schools etc. exist, but only in the form of buildings.
My day starts with a cup of tea around 6 o’ clock – I do not remember the last time I used to get up so early. This is followed up by cutting fodder for buffaloes. Rotating the double-blade cutter was an easy task I thought, until shoulders and back started giving signs of weariness. Doing it continuously turned out to be a good pre-bathing exercise. And, the chit chats with my host aunty during the process is something I would remember for long.
By the time I freshen up it is time to go to the nearby private school. Devoid of benches and other basic facilities, it is the only functional school in the village. It has a number of bright children, who, sadly, might slip off main stream education due to various factors.

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I have to leave the school earlier to attend inauguration of a dental clinic in Bajna. The dentist is member of the extended family of my host uncle. They decided to shift the clinic to tap larger market and to avoid competition from another dentist in their earlier location. The inauguration, though a low key affair, is attended by dignitaries of the area. The shop owners nearby assure of all possible help in establishing the clinic – a gesture I don’t remember witnessing in urban set up.

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I return home in the afternoon, have a late lunch (normal timing is 9:30 a.m.) and go off for an afternoon nap. It is 4 o’ clock now and time to head to Yamuna with my uncle and aunty to get veggies. We talk our way through harvested wheat fields, dusty roads and newly sown moong fields. Uncle and aunty keep arguing about whether I should eat cucumber and kakri without washing them. We reach veggie farm, aunty offers me some cucumber to eat while uncle is busy giving instructions to tenants about how to increase the yield. Strong westerly winds blowing throughout the day has severely impacted the vegetables now, after immensely lowering the weight of wheat grains. We pack two bags of veggies; aunty and I take one each and embark on our journey back. Everyone is tired by now with no energy left to converse and almost quietly reach our home

I, then, sit with my aunty and talk for a while, and it is almost dark by now. It’s now time for aarti in the temple nearby. Elderly people share their experiences and ask me about agriculture, temple land, education etc. in my home state. Sitting there even for a while gives a lot of information about the village and adjoining areas. It is now 7:30 and time for dinner. Again, I do not remember having dinner that early ever in my life. Initially, it was challenging to adjust to the new time table. I used to get super hungry late at night, however, I always had this in the back of my mind that this experience is all about stepping outside my comfort zone to the maximum extent possible. I almost run back home as aunty is waiting, have my dinner, and go for a walk with aunt’s son.
It is 9 o’clock by now and a good part of the village is already asleep. I take down my notes for the day and listen to some songs. 2G internet and almost no electricity leave no options to watch YouTube videos – an activity that was so common place back in Delhi. It’s now time to call it a day, and a cot with mosquito net is waiting for me under open, moon-lit sky.

 

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