Count down start…our field guide Sukumar said-
“You have four days, you have to cover three villages and your target is around 60 families for data collection.”
For the past four days I was roaming in tribal villages of southern Gujarat for my project. This was the first time I entered in Gujarat; I did not know the local language, I have not the local food habit, I did not know what the climatic condition is? In spite of that it was like a race that after reaching here in AKRSP within few days we finished our literature review, prepared our questionnaire (without knowing the local context), defined our sample size, packed our bags, and rushed directly to villages. Fortunately, this time I was not alone and my TDA mate Anurag was with me. The best part was that we did not know anything about geography, our lodging, boarding arrangements, Vasva tribal community (our hosts and respondents), and local context; thanks to our past experiences of field that we had confidence that whatever situation, we will successfully manage with that.
Here I am skipping my academic part (readers I care for you). We reached in village at day time.
We were lucky to get an auto because very limited autos were available up to village Chimbapani (our first destiny). Here we had to finish the 29 interviews within one day, so we just discussed with our host and guide Kanto Bhai to help us. I was amazed that when people heard that two students need their help for data collection, all came forward and they sat with us till 9 pm at night (this was mid night timing for them). Whole day we could not get anything eat so at night when we got dinner, it was like honey for me. 12*12*2 inch size Chapati was in my plate but it hardly matters when you are hungry. Three chapattis and one plate rice, it was one of the best dinners I ever had.
Next day morning we visited that village, people greeted us warmly; I was also interested to know their local heritage, culture, and wisdom.
I observed their houses very closely; it was the best example of their wisdom. Here all the houses are eco friendly (we people used to say it Katcha houses) and they designed it in such a way that even during peak summer when temperature goes around 45-50 degree, people lives comfortably here without any fan or freeze.
For grain storage they developed a unique model, locally called ‘Kothiya’. It is made by dung and mud and they store their food inside it without using any chemical and fumes. (FCI -Food Corporation of India people should visit here).
Same day evening we left the village and started our journey for next village called Padi. Here our host was Heera Bhai, a 35 year youth. At evening time we started our work because day time all were engaged in agricultural activities. Something unexpected was always expected and this time it happened when drinkers came forward for discussion and answering. It was a mess and funny situation because now they were offering us homemade alcohol. We came back safe to home after listening the ingredients of ‘Desi Daru’. Next day we finished studying of this village and rushed to next village called Kakrapadi.
Heera Bhai came with us to kakrapadi village at evening time and told that one person will accompany us for our stay and will arrange everything for us. When we reached to that home, neighbours informed us that our host went to the temple. We did not had any choice so we took our luggage, entered into his house, waited in one room, and started our work without knowing whether they will allow us or not. After two hour house owner came back; first they were surprised, than shocked and finally they greeted us. Formally it was confirmed that one more night we will get place for food and shelter.
This was the story of my four days experiences of tribal area of Gujarat. It was an adventure with academics purpose where we tried to cover our target is minimum time period. Not much but in very short time period I tried to live those memories and experiences. Still one more month I am here; hope many more experiences and learning waiting for me.