It was Pimpaldari this time. 2 days taken out the leaves of life and time. And it stood still… at the same time it moved in a great current.
One has to see this little hamlet of Pimpaldari to believe it. Remote. High hills that seemed to scrape the sky. Tough terrain. Carlos, an inimitable driver who didn’t let us feel a single bump on roads that he seemed to pick out of nowhere. It felt we climbed miles to the Top of the World. Miles and miles and miles of nothing-ness. Except land, wind and sky.
14 houses that clung to the earth… struggling from being blown away by the wind that roared constantly. One would expect silence here. But not so… only to be found, suddenly, serendipitously when the wind rested for few moments. What did the people think, I wondered. All life seemed to revolve around a uni-dimensional life – of growing food, bringing water and just living. At first glance, they looked trapped here… high up on the hills. What would be my Reality if I were to be born and bred here?
Their source of water was a revelation in itself. A small hole in the ground, that collected the drops seeping through the rock-face. The rock-face showing stains of a now-dry waterfall, that will come alive, come rain. They went down, the narrow path clinging and hugging the slope… and the women came up, 2 pots on the head, one hanging in the hand, in perfect balance.
“Animals must come here too? For water?”, we asked the groups of 5-6 villagers who came with us to “inspect” their water-source. “Of course”, that old, weather-beaten faced, Aaji said. “We see them all the time”. “How do you manage?”, city-bred voices asking wide-eyed at the idea of encountering a tiger. “Nothing to it”, said that ancient lady. “If we come and see the tiger at that pool, we wait… and if we are here for water and the tiger comes, it waits for us to finish”. That’s it. That’s all. Perfect understanding between man and animal. Perfect harmony. No competition here. Just pure letting be.
It is then it struck me… what I had missed seeing at that first glance. There was no trap here. They weren’t trapped here. They were just, completely a part of the eco-system… just as much those blades of yellow-orange grass, or the dust whorls that danced over the land… so much that we couldn’t “see” it… we ourselves being so much removed from it.
“If you could help us sort out this water problem, it would be great”, said the women. Sometimes we have to wait for quite long for the pool to fill. And there are other families from other villages who depend on this too, they said.
The solution was simple. Not expensive. Not big enough for the Government to take it up, yet too much for these 30 families to raise. Also very difficult for the villagers to implement. The pool was on the “forest” land. Permissions would be required from the forest department – even to build a small tank. The Gram Panchayat would have to pass the resolutions. A lot of “running around” would have to be done. Looking into the eyes to the people here, we knew the bureaucratic red-tape was simply insurmountable for them.
And Natasha knew then what she had to do to make this happen. And it was a simple matter for Rajendra and his team to get it done.
Solutions often come from unexpected places. We only have to be alert for them.