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The true Indian civilization is in the Indian villages.

~ M. K. Gandhi

 

I have adopted a new (well, feels new) hobby–biking through rural places. As a matter of fact, I used to be an explorer of roads and pathways (narrow roads for foot) when I had a bicycle, when I used to live in Bahadur Pada, Brajrajnagar. It used to be an exciting, reveling leisure activity then, and I feel proud to say it still is. There’s this law of attraction which states that “the belief that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results”. For me, being on the roads leading to or returning from a village stimulates that part of my brain that was hardly used in the past 7 years. I’ve come to the realization that Art and Philosophy was supposed to be my field of study. Anyways, as I was pointing to the fact that I don’t have contempt for big, 6/8 lanes roads..they are modern marvels and made life & communication so easy and comfortable. It’s just that they aren’t as fulfilling as the roads connecting villages. Now, if it is so, then why do people don’t take these routes? 

Village roads in Odisha

I took the road less travelled

 

I have few answers to that. First, it’s time – in our world, time is directly proportional to money. Now, it’s in the essence of every civilized human that do whatever but respect money. And so, respect time. Don’t waste your time in futile occupations. And wanderings the village roads is a waste of time. Yes, it is! Just that, few people have nothing more important to do in that time and that brings to me! I’m jobless, unemployed, sitting-at-home graduate engineer to take on these meaningless, small excursions to the rural ecosystem.

Second – Such routes are devoid of pitch roads, street lights, bettle (Pan) shops, even it’s real difficult to spot human life sometimes. No doubt there are settlements with small huts and cows, trees, etc but civilized humans feel sick in such places. Indeed, they should. Imagine a hot, sunny day in a rural environment where a 30 inches wide haphazard grass-ridden path with various kinds of trees and bushes on either side and you’re sitting on a bike. It’s not a lovely picture, right? I presumed so!

Third – Security. The human life’s most precious doctrine. Thee shall always feel secure. It’s this age-old school of thought that human life progresses better in a secured world. I can be attacked by a goon or a bandit (on horse) and can exhort money or belongings and I’ve to comply to their demands. Or my vehicle’s tyre get punctured and I’m stuck in some, god-forsaken place, far from civilization. Or as my friends afraid that I might get nauseous and faint in the middle of the road, nobody there to wake me into consciousness. All these are a possibility,  I don’t deny that. But, what the heck? I’ll go anyways…

I start my odyssey from IB Nadi, the most famous landmark in the district of Jharsuguda. I visit the small shop on the banks of NH-200, across which the water-body flows. The bettle shop owner hands me 2 gold flakes, 2 water pouch, 4 bambaiyaa and 1 rolled cylinder of freshly prepared burned leaves of an intoxicating plant that we commonly know as cannabis. The setting is perfect. Ib nadi, NH-200, solitary tin-shop and weed. I ride my father’s antique, red-coloured Hero Honda CD-100 which is a great bike for such travels. Father says it’s his lucky bike. I say, it’s the motor-cycle which is lucky to be in the possession of father. After I check all the objects of my pleasure, I ride through the ‘highway on the bridge’ back..Suddenly, I take a detour to my left side along the banks of river.

Few meters down, the roads take a bad form. It’s no more artificially made – 2 inches think motor-way. It’s a natural pathway now. Something that has been created by man and his livestocks foot treading everyday. I look at my odometer- it’s showing average 15. I felt the front tire jumping. I have to be more careful, I decided. I can now see the roads getting wider, somewhat artificial too, like a pathway created by people putting up red soil to make it work as an even, fixed road. Once I get to that part, I accelerate the accelerator and now it’s nearing 30. I see one very narrow, kinda like 20 inches detour on my left ahead of some 50 meters from my present location. I turned the handle. Now, it’s only bamboo trees around, few big banyan trees too in the distance and I stopped the bike at the end of the brownian path. A slope begun where I halted which end at the river-bed. I parked the vehicle and got down admiring the picturesque landscape.

10 minutes later…

I am glaring at the sky..it’s cloudy now. Sun rays doesn’t hit me directly and it’s a bit gloomy now. The kind of gloomy that you prefer to the blazing sun or pouring rains. Actually, it’s the same now outside when I am writing this sober. Back to the setting. I put my dirty, raw feet and slippers inside the shallow river-water. I felt something went through my feet to my brains passing my heart. It’s that exotic feeling like when you touch the girl you love for the first time. Not by feet, but by hands! And that passes through your heart all the way to your brain. I was able to catch birds chirping sitting on the trees…it was a strange experience.

The joint was over. I kick-started the conveyance and went back the way I came. I took the left again which put me in the pitch road on my previous pathway…Some kilometers away, the roads again turned into worse form. This time, it’s uneven too..with rocks and grass…sometimes, I couldn’t even make out the most-traveled path. The weather has turned into scorching heat I pulled over my bike under a big tree in the midst of agricultural fields. This tree of banyan was the largest structure, at least in a kilometer radius. I took shelter under it’s big branches and flowering leaves..From the pockets of my cotton cargo half-pants, I took out the matches and the gold flake. A dim breeze came and hit my face. I turned around only to find small gasps of cool air blowing in the wind. I lighted the sutta and sat when a small piece of granite rock, seemingly placed there on purpose of sitting, called me and I approached with fear (of snakes/reptiles) and moved around the rock in a circular fashion and finally, finding everything calm to my taste, I put my buttocks upon it.

I inhaled smoke and exhaled it in rings (yes, I can do that!)…and wondered about a life here in the fields..a life away from the hustle and bustle of a city, with trees and birds and reptiles and cows and insects and worms around. They all come visit/live-in this tree, breathe life under this sanctity and then, go on to follow their regular chores. I was intrigued by this provider of life to other creatures – the trees! And I thought about how we can always come up and visit it but it can’t go places. It’s fixed and God has made it that way. A tree (it’s living soul) must be very jealous of animals and mammals. It must feel the pain of not being able to express it’s feelings or move around a bit. When some human attack it with an axe in his hands, the tree can do nothing to save itself from the violence. It’s a fucking joke, I think, by the maker. The vitalizing plants are immovable and thus, they are less powerful. While the high functioning brain of human who trashes the planet wherever they go are calling all the shots in our natural world.

While all these thoughts on existentialism was crossing my mind, I heard a distant sound of a motorcycle approaching towards my position and I lost my chain of thoughts…I looked at the cigarette on my hands and finding it lose 90% of it’s existence, I threw it away in a rash manner. And I went near the bike. The man in Hero Honda Passion+ seemed like a 30 something, black-goggles, blue shirt wearing responsible person. I saw in his eyes (or rather his goggles) just to prove I was doing no wrong-doings and the sound of his vehicle passed me in a doppler effect. I kicked the starter and was on my way before long. On my way, I torn the plastic cover of bambaiyaa packet and put the ingredients inside my mouth. A small village with 10/15 houses made of mud and khapar advanced towards me. I sped up and passed the on-lookers rashly and then sped up more.

 

In these small trips through villages lying on a different track right beside the modern, towny civilization of Brajrajnagar (starting from Gandhi Chowk to ESI Chowk), I’ve found a remarkable satisfaction in my life. That there are people living their life in what we, modern human call low-life, the lives of indigenous, in a happy and fulfilled way. Sure, they don’t have all the comforts of the “age of technology” but they don’t need much of that. They are content with what they have and they don’t feel too dumb for not using them. Then, I found that they have something that we urban settlers can never get. The peaceful existence with other life-forms. You see, there they possess cows, goats and dogs, monkeys or maybe snakes. They plant trees and do farming..produce grains and wheat and rice and they have developed a very deep understanding with the nature that we city-dwellers can never even imagine. It’s very lively and very pristine life they are living…acknowledging and respecting every life-forms. And they serve the society..albeit in a different way than you or me. You see,

I want to give something in return of this life of existence. And so the vagabonding. It fills me up with hope, with understanding that I can’t find in National Highways and L&T roads worth 1crore/km.