Is there any point telling you it’s hot and steamy? No didn’t think so! On the road again, today it’s Ikkadu and Roshanagaram to visit the farm projects. We are currently all sat on the bus travelling through the rural areas just outside of Chennai, pondering on life in India, thinking about life outside the cities. People picking rice, people carrying material on their heads in the humid heat, people standing chatting on the side of the road, people working the fields. We drive past the thatched makeshift homes of the labourers and villages,mother lone woman standing under the tree, the man standing at the doorway of the Hindu temple on the roadside, the group of men gathered under the shade of the tree with their tiffin and chai! The sights are so many and so far removed from my life in Australia, so far removed from any of our lives, yet a reality at this moment in time and a reality for the lives of so many every day.
We pass through Thirruvallur and the green fields are gone, replaced by busy town life, two wheelers lining the main street, people buying their groceries, workshops, plumbing shops, cows, goats – overload on the senses!
We visited the local hospital, so small and in so much need, they are currently renovating and extending to enable them to provide more health care in the local area, after this it was time to travel a little further out to another hospital and again it is in so much need of being updated, yet they continue faithfully to provide health care. A young boy lay alone in the post op room recovering from an appendectomy! Then it was off to the fields where the women work tirelessly to earn a days pay. Bent over double they plant the rice. I figured that it was time to give it a go and see what it is like, and boy it’s hard work. The time it took me to plant a row the women had planted so many more. Prior to planting there are chemicals planted in the soil, the health issues faced by these women are quite severe, close contact to chemicals and the constant bending – please take head next time you eat rice, the workers work hard!
I visited some older people who have no one to care for them during the day, they had waited hours for me as we were late arriving, but yet they waited patiently and all they wanted was a blessing. I have said it before and I say it again that no words can explain the emotions and thoughts that are experienced as we meet the people and hear the stories. The people are so hospitable and so willing to engage it is quite a challenge to the way we live. A great example is when we arrived home fairly late we went for a walk to the coffee shop. Two roads and a couple of corona rise later we arrived and sat with our coffee. There was another couple in the cafe and rather than ignore us they told us there name and where they worked and said if we had any problems please contact them and they would help us out – can you imagine that happening where we live?
Can you imagine people working long hours in a field picking rice for less than a dollar a day? Can you imagine engaging with a stranger and giving them your contact details in case they find themselves needing help? Can you imagine people waiting hours without complaining for visitors? Well that’s what we encounter. This is a place where norms are challenged, emotes are fueled and the people are beautiful.