They are not mere data-points

It has been over a month, I am staying at a certain tribal village with the people, sharing their reality. I am here to collect data. When I enter their house I say I am from IRMA and we are here to survey your household, know about your income, expenditure, the crops you grow, the food you eat, the school your kids go, the diseases you suffer from. I get my responses, I jot them down and move on with my life. ‘Another household covered…!’ I exclaim within myself.

Every reality has its own lens

But then I recently met a family, just a mere household I went to cover, to get my data points, to get the variation in my data. The head of the family suffered from asthma, the lady was an agricultural labourer. They had two kids, stunted in their growth but way ahead with their mind. The kids knew how much food grains they get from the fair price shop every month as it is invaluable for their existence, they knew how much the seeds cost, how much it took to rent a tractor to farm, how much fertilizer they put in. Heck, the 12 year olds even knew how much it costs to sell their goats, as it is what helps the family when the rain plays a spoilsport and ruins their crops.

I clamour that my life has been tough, when mom cooks something which I dislike, when my internet speeds suffer, when my order doesn’t get delivered on time, when my phone battery is about to die. But their struggles are about life and death, every single day. The lady goes out to the nearby town and works as a labourer, the father goes out in the farm, the kids to the nearby school. They come together at night when it grows dark and suddenly, the lights go off, they feel absolutely indifferent. They know this is a part of their life, a part of their daily struggle, to embrace the darkness. No electricity can clear such darkness.

It gave me a sense of understanding. To be honest, it made me feel grateful and helpless
simultaneously. Grateful, that I was privileged enough to be born and brought up in a way where I could realize my potentials and try to push my limits. And helpless as I could give them nothing but my sympathy. I know both their kids won’t study for long, they too would go out and toil in the sun to support the family. The vicious cycle would continue, their poverty would never come in their zone of control. It will only go on further and farther.

That day I realised I am not here to just get my data-points, to get my 21 Households surveyed and prepare a report. There is so much more to each person I meet, much more than the amount of wheat, rice, sugar they consume, much more than the pay they receive. I saw a picture of life that was non-existent for me. Never in my life would I have come to know these people, their lifestyle, their struggles. As an individual it affects me, makes me understand their pain of hunger, their pain of ignorance, their absolute helplessness.

With a heavy heart, teary eyes and a sense of realization I walked out of their home. They were not mere data-points for me anymore…

Wish you a very happy and insightful new year 🙂

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India lives in many centuries at a time…

Many years ago, renowned film maker Mr. Shyam Benegal addressed aspiring rural managers in the auditorium of Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and famously mentioned that our country lives in many centuries at a time… Recently after visiting a tribal village named ‘Sarkui‘, around 70 kms from Surat city, I believe Mr. Benegal’s words stand taller than ever.

The experiences I had there made me realize the privileges I had always taken for granted in life. I am sharing a few below…

The face that says it all

Bhimjibhai, a marginal farmer living in a kuccha house with intermittent access to electricity and water, has a family of five to take care of. With no access to banking facilities, he takes loan from private money lenders and waits patiently for 14 months to get the money for his sugarcane production… When asked if he is facing any huge challenges, he smiles and says ‘Sab thik hi hai’… That’s the face of rural India.

A little kid peeps into the camera

Found him in one of the three Anganwadis in Sarkui. There the young kids are looked after. The kids of the scheduled tribes do not have access to a nutritive diets. They are often anemic and suffer from stunted growth. Their diet in the Anganwadi primarily consists of rice and milk.

The local P.A system of the village

Sarkui mainly consists of people from Scheduled tribes, the Chaudharis, the Vasavas and the Kotwaliyas. These communities have their traditions deeply rooted in their culture. One such tradition is of the Valvai. He is the person who makes announcement for public gatherings in the village. His forefathers have been doing the same since years and he has been continuing the tradition. Here he is informing people to gather in the jungle tomorrow morning for the celebration of Nandarva, the festival after the first monsoon rain in the village.

Pankajbhai, the Sarkui higher secondary school principal

An enthusiastic young man, Pankajbhai has recently been appointed the school principal and he wants to do real service to a village where the education literacy is just over 50%. His major concern is the lack of quality education in the primary school. Kids coming from the 8th grade don’t possess basic skills. He needs to start by teaching them counting and mathematics before going ahead. The challenges at his hand are immense but he is confident in bringing about a change in the village.

As our professors say that Poverty is multi-dimensional. I believe so is rural India as well. It cannot be defined, it can only be sensed and can only be sensitized about. The experience was eye-opening for me and I hope that one day I will be able to make a difference in their lives.

Big shout-out to Rajat and Praveen my Induction Field-work Segment (IFS) partners. The memories we made will always be remembered.

I hope you enjoyed the post 🙂

Do let me know your thoughts in the comment section!!

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Jerry’s Gabble #3: Why do we have to explain everything?

Today as I was coming back home, I saw a man sitting next to a herd of cow. I felt strange as I thought ‘Why would someone do that?’. So I went near and saw him, who’s eyes were fixed on the cow. Guess who he was? Jerry, of course.
Me: Hey Jerry, is everything all right? (I kept a hand on his back)
Jerry stood motionless, moved his head, smiled at me… Again moved his head and started looking at the cow. I went down looked at the cow which was staring clueless at Jerry and then I looked at Jerry, I couldn’t understand exactly what he was trying to do.
Me: Jerry you are stupid!
He didn’t respond. I got up and started walking.
Jerry: Do cows tell each other that ‘hey you are stupid’ ?
I was like wtf  is he talking. He turned around, stood up and came upto me.
Jerry: Do cows keep on babbling all day long like us? Do they have to explain to everyone whatever they do??
Me: What are you talking?
Jerry (adjusting his glasses) : Every creature I see, except human, seems at an innate peace. There is no hurry within them to reach somewhere or to leave from somewhere. I guess their ignorance itself is bliss. Don’t you think so?
I was confused. His words were sharp and they went through me. His tone didn’t say that he wanted a answer, instead he had answered what he was doing. I felt he was trying to find that innate peace. I smiled at him as there was no need to say anything because all that was needed was that understanding.
I greeted him good-bye as I moved on my way back to my home.


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The Smiths- Please let me get what I want…!

There are some songs which are written from the heart. Such songs make you feel like they should never end. You can keep on hearing it again and again. It never gets old. Probably one such song of an old English Band The Smiths has been lingering in my head since I heard it for the first time in the movie 500 Days Of Summer.

The way they begin “Good times for a change…” asking God how he has been through so much pain. But then he wants some good time. Asking in a voice that touches so deeply “Please, please, please … Let me, let me… Let me… Get what I want, this time”. It makes you feel the pain in his voice.

Also the mandolin played in the end is so sweet. Though the song is just around two minutes, its really refreshing. Here I leave you with a melody I can guarantee you will cherish for the rest of your life. 

“Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want” 
Good times for a change
see, the luck I’ve had
can make a good man
turn bad

So please please please
let me, let me, let me
let me get what I want
this time

Haven’t had a dream in a long time
see, the life I’ve had
can make a good man bad

So for once in my life
let me get what I want
Lord knows it would be the first time
Lord knows it would be the first time

(Lyrics courtesy:

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Expectations: An original sin

Have you always anticipated what people close to you might do, and have you failed time and again to understand them? If you answer that 70% ( I am practically assuming less) of the time you fail or rather your expectations are not fulfilled then my friend please pay attention here. Expectations are not something you develop for anyone instantly. It gradually matures and that maturity can be threatening if not controlled.

As people come close, two major things take place. First, you get attached to their words and everything they do, secondly you start presuming how he/she might behave or reply the way you want and when you want. As the closeness to the person increases, the pain you feel on the breaking of your expectation also increases. Hence one can conclude that expectation is a function of closeness.

 And mind you, it is an original sin present even in a 5 year old kid or an old person living his last few days on earth. But the control parameters necessary to handle expectations might vary. A 5 year old might cry if his expectations won’t get fulfilled but an old man would behave very differently possibly in an ideal way, I assume.

Let me tell you how to deal with it. There can be two possible outcomes if your expectation is not fulfilled. Either the person exceeds your expectation or he/she suffers miserably on it. In the first case you better make it clear to yourself that his exceeding your expectations shouldn’t change the way you expect things from him. Now if he fails miserably you should provide yourself a negative feedback (a science jargon!) which means to make your expectation wanting system to slow down. Understand why he/she couldn’t live by your thoughts, there can be ‘n’ number of reasons you would have never thought of before expecting the outcome from him/her. Hence take into account all those reasons into your reality before forming the next expectation. I hope this makes you understand how to make expectations work by your way rather than the opposite.

One thing is certain that you cannot runaway from expecting things from your close ones as well as living as per the expectations of them. So instead understand and may be improve your system, be a mature person and handle expectations in a positive way.