Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Village Side: Part II

These photos are from a school in the center of the village from the The Village Side: Part I photoset I posted the other day.

The village is a few hours outside of Bangalore in the middle arid farmland, orchards, and the occasional coconut tree. The village is a sponsored project site for Citizens for Social Action (CSA) which is a small non-profit social action/justice organization powered by student volunteers at Christ University in the city. CSA recently had brought fresh and clean well water to the community, when previously a fresh water source was miles away. Though there is only one well in the village now women and their children do not have to walk as many miles to the nearest fresh water source. In addition, CSA had recently put in a few street lights through the main streets of town making it safer for the same group to walk home later in the evenings.

The school kids were all very excited for the Americans to come and see them that day. No matter where in the world I am, I am not very good with children. I was lucky enough to have a 'big flashy picture taker' as they said, which they loved seeing their pictures on the screen after each and every click of the button, and gave me an opportunity to capture these really amazing moments.

Inside of the school buildings which was no larger than half a basketball field I was shown every piece of paper than had been colored on, paper cut into dolls, and favorite books in languages I didn't know. I was looking up at the first picture below, knowing well who I was looking at, and thinking how prevalent their faces were. Like the Lincoln and Franklin.

"Father of the country," she tugged at my arm and pointed up with her other hand up at the photos above. She giggled, "don't you know Gandhi, you silly, don't you know Ambedkar. I know who they are, you silly"

We had, as a group, been in India for a little over a month and spent the majority of our time in the city and in supreme tourist accommodations whenever on guided tours with the school.

The village, was obviously, much different. Not only was it rural but it was simple. If you have ever been to an Indian city it is anything but simple. "Villages are how most people in India still live," one of my professors from Christ University reminded me as we discussed the difference of experience in the city and from the village. "Even though the cities are manic, over crowded, and very, very, busy most of our people live in places like this."

One of the American students made a comment on the bus back to Bangalore that I haven't been able to get out of my mind since the day we spent in the village. Something along the lines of how she thought the villages would be much worse, that she expected a scene from Slumdog Millionaire.
The professor laughed (so did I inside) and reminded her, "Oh, Hollywood never understand India. That's why we have our own industry. Slumdog Millionaire is American movie about northern slums in places like Delhi... so silly. [That] movie was very good, opened many eyes around the West to realer picture of modern India, showed our love and passion for music... but is not India, India is not as dark, as scary, as dangerous, a place as your country tends to believe. Yes many live in improper conditions, but love the land they live on, love working that land, it is a way of life, way we live and wish to live for long time to come. Would it make your experience more memorable and cathartic for your stories for your friends back home to see Indians in destitute? Do you not rejoice in seeing Indians elevated?"

She never answered that question. The bus fell silent the majority of the ride home, except the conversation he and I had started earlier in the day and the radio station that the bus driver deemed his favorite.

Thanks for stopping by.

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