“India’s heart lies in its villages.”
As a girl living in the city, I have always been curious about the lifestyle in a village. We often hear that people go to the rural areas to find peace and solidarity or to take a break from their city lives. At a young age, we only get to know about the natural beauty, purity and simplicity of the rural areas. But as we grow up, we do hear about the various negative aspects that are present there in the villages. All this information leads us to form certain perceptions of such places which we might have never visited. Similarly, I myself had formed some stereotypes about our Indian villages without visiting them.
Yesterday I got a chance to visit a nearby village/semi rural area in Udaipur. We were given some amount of money and were asked to go to the village and interact with as many people as we could in a span of 4-5 hours. The main objective of this activity was to break or reinforce any stereotype that we had about a village. I knew that 5 hours is too less a time to form any opinion about a new place or their people but the thought of interacting with people from an entirely different culture made me really excited.
Before going there, I started to think about what I actually felt about a village. Like any other person, I had a mixed bag of thoughts coming in my mind. One strong perception that I had about people living in villages was that they were still unaware of the importance of women education. So I chose to visit a nearby village called Neemach Kheda Dewali. It was a beautiful place on top of a hill and the view was mesmerizing. I went there with a curious mindset to not only interact with people but also observe as many things as possible. When I started approaching people, I could see how welcoming they were. Maybe they were even more curious to see me roaming around with a diary and pen in my hand. I did get a chance to speak with a lot of families who were mostly cooperative in interacting with me and answering my questions. This particular family was really welcoming and they themselves had a lot of things to share with me. The male member was a middle aged man and he looked fairly educated and was using a better smart phone than mine. After some conversation, when he himself brought the topic of education and how important he feels education is for people to survive and grow, I asked him about his opinion on women education. He said his wife was uneducated but since he was educated, he kept his wife and children happy. He had a lot of justifications for how he felt and I was sure that this one interaction of mine would not influence him in any way. I got similar responses from most of the other houses that I visited. The women in those households were either too shy to speak or they were just agreeing to what their husbands were saying. Few did express their desire to study and work.
After this visit, I still feel that somewhere the educational awareness amongst villagers, especially for women needs to be improved. Being educated will not only help them economically but also increase their social awareness. I don’t really know how and when, but I hope my stereotype gets broken soon.