So I am just going back in time a bit and jotting down some thoughts that came to me before and after I joined this fellowship .
Back in June this year, there I was, working as an HR Business Partner – fancy term I know, but not very fancy work! I wasn’t getting what I wanted at the end of the day – any kind of self-gratification or satisfaction. I know most jobs are that way and our generation is really spoiled for choice, but that’s probably a topic for another post.
I resigned without further ado and thought of possible options.
Waste management? Waste management is really the need of the hour in Bangalore and I was super enthusiastic about it after doing a few spotfixes with The Ugly Indian.
Study further? Hmmm… Going back to college did seem inviting, but what did I want to study?
Join some NGO, different role in HR, write UPSC exams (I even signed up for this), teach at a school, join politics(!)… the list was endless and the thoughts, utterly confusing!
All of a sudden, one day, Anand told me about this SBI Youth for India – rural development fellowship and I thought THIS IS IT!
It gives me a platform to work with an NGO – with the freedom of creating my own project but leveraging the expertise of the NGO. Wow! It seemed too good to be true. After a bit of coaxing my anxious parents (“You’re going to have to stay away from your husband! Oh no!”) and Anand’s cool parents, I applied, got through and was on my way to Ahmedabad for the orientation. I’ve written about it here already.
So when I got the fellowship, my thoughts were varying from:
Wow, I’m finally going to be able to actually LIKE what I do!
I will make a difference to people’s lives now.
I am going to transform villages and feel good about myself!
Let’s go bring some villages on the path of development!
Now, as I am visiting villages, the biggest question I have is :
What really is development?
These people in the remote tribal villages of Odisha seem to be far more developed than any city! Let me try to convince you through some observations I made.
Clean, really clean villages. Every single village we visited was spotlessly clean.
Welcoming strangers with warm smiles. When did you last smile at a stranger on your street?
These people in the picture were so happy we visited their far-flung village; they thanked us wholeheartedly and said nice things to us, which we really didn’t deserve! Varun even wrote a beautiful poem about it here.
Sharing food with strangers; when was the last time you welcomed strangers with food?
These kind people shared the roasted corn cobs from their farm with us. Yum! Never before had I eaten three whole corn cobs by myself!
Time on your hands for yourself, family, friends, laughs. Let’s not even talk about the luxury of time in cities!
Clean drinking water , straight from the tap, in your toilet, bathroom and kitchen! Can you say the same?
Lovely beautiful sights everywhere! Sigh…
Happiness, peace, love, respect. LIFE! What more does one want?
I am not saying let’s all live in villages nor am I saying there are no problems in villages. There’s so much to learn from the simple life in villages, something our forefathers had the fortune of experiencing even in the cities we are presently in. Ok, I am not going to get preachy and talk about being content with what one has, etc.
I just thought I would leave you with this question: Does development mean creating more cities and towns?