The village

When I got married to my husband I knew I was in for a different experience.  I wasn’t expecting good, bad, better or worse just different. I strongly believe that people all over the world are the same despite race, culture, language and geographical differences. My faith led me to believe I would be fine in my adopted family in spite of different traditions, food, culture and people.

I knew we were different people due to differences in our upbringing, the cities we were raised in, experiences we had amassed along our individual journeys. Six years after we got married decided to experience the life my mother in law had adopted. A life in a village in the southern region of the state called Odisha, formerly known as Orissa.

It’s been an enriching experience. Orissa happens to be a farmer friendly well organized state with little corruption at the grass root level. That translates into flourishing farm lands, rich farmers with assets beyond our city folk imagination. Life is pure manual labor from the minute you wake up, which is generally very early to the minute you sleep. This is interspersed with village gossip and politics. Something we city folk would miserably fail at as we have no talent in those departments.

On the face of it, everyone is nice, caring, hardworking, independent and proficient in the art of family drama. No one would miss a beat to participate in village gossip, politics, land deals and pettiness. But such is life in a small place, where people don’t lock their doors and food could be served from any kitchen. There is a certain openness in this place, where love and affection is abundant. However when it comes to land and money, things can change any moment. Family feuds can start at any time, sisters can disown brothers, marriage arrangements can be broken all over a land deal gone bad.

In such a volatile environment, I find myself a stranger and yet well accepted. I know I walk a very thin line, between being likable to becoming a threat. Nothing is subtle here and it amazes me that a lot of city folk think, the villagers are simple people. The ironies are interesting and I look forward to many more experiences.

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Filed under A first, Always one step behind, Challenges, Confusion, Culture, Environment, Expectations, Experiences, Humor, Life, Love, Marriage, People, Relationships, Society

4 responses to “The village

  1. Oooooh. Do write more about this. My only chance to live in villages was during my fieldwork and I traveled through Maharashtra shacking up with families. The social proximity in these settings will surely drive me batty if on a permanent basis, but in small doses and as a short-term visitor who was a guest, it was very enjoyable. That apart, your point about the simplicity of the rural folks – Some of the most feisty women I have met are from tiny hamlets with not much exposure to the ‘modern’ world. It has often made me question the kind of feminism that are paraded on blogs by modern and independent women. Makes me laugh at the utter naivety that folks think ‘exposure’ has bestowed upon them.

    I have never been to Orissa and would love to visit. I had a roommate who was from this place called Behrampur and am still charmed with my imagery of it. Aren’t cross cultural marriages fun? If it were in my hands to pick and choose, I would probably go for one from a community different from my background. Given the eternal outsider status coupled with my curiosity, I always think it would keep things exciting. So much to always learn, but I can see how it also might be stressful if the two people involved are not in sync with each other. Do write more on your MIL’s village. A former colleague is from this state and OMG, the sweets that he used to get after every visit home are nothing on the Bengali sweets. I also read recently about this huge fuss over rosogulla with the Odias claiming that it is originally a sweet from their community which the Bengalis being cultural hegemonists usurped. Good fun 🙂

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    • So spot on! You have given me so much to think and write about.

      Behrampur is a small city, and our village is about 100kms south of it. Orissa is beautiful, people even nicer and yes those sweets! They are something! They have a particular brown/yellow rasagulla that beats any rasagulla that any Bengalli could only hope to make. No offense to anyone! 🙂

      I am happy with my marriage to an Oriya! So much to learn from the accomplished yet very humble Oriyas! I love my adopted state and the people I have met there.

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  2. Do write more about your visits to the village. I find villages so intriguing, but only because I don’t have to permanently live there. I tend to have a very romantic ideas about villages, fewer people, simpler life, but a life of hard work is anything but.

    As a child we used to visit my dad’s village near Belgaum. We went there for the village fair. I used to even have a friend named Lilly. Her name was actually Leela, but we called her Lilly. She was one of the 9 daughters her parents had! They stopped only after having a tenth child…the SON. After my marriage, I also visited the husband’s dad’s village. It’s beautiful with unlimited greens, homecooked desi chicken, lots of milk products, dozens of limes from the lime tree outside. 🙂 I loved it, but my internet obsessed self becomes fidgety soon enough when I don’t have a book or internet. 😦

    I have never been to Orissa. Would love to visit the rural areas sometime.

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    • The village is a very romantic place from a distance. Once you get into the nitty gritties, it gets very interesting. I once believed that I would stay wherever my husband would want to settle. But I had to make him promise me that he would never ask me to live in the village. While it is great for a short visits, I don’t think I could handle the thinking, way of life and standards of living in the village. Villages are getting internet slowly but surely, so I am not even holding that against them. 🙂

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