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Country life in India – a slide show

January 10, 2008

On a recent trip to the country-side in western Maharashtra I came across a lot of people doing different things….I captured them on camera and got a sense of the kind of life they led. Here is the slide show. I hope you enjoy this glimpse into the lives of these simple folk. If you notice none of the photographs are close-ups and that is deliberate. These people are completely one with the environment. Just like we are stuck to our computers they are stuck to nature! Lucky is what I call them.

At the end of the show you will get a screen saying ‘subscribe’ – just ignore it. It was not possible for me to disable it as it comes with the slide show.

The map below (from Google Maps) marks out the area which we visited, and is marked by the red arrow. The inset at the bottom right hand corner is the India map.

Related viewing: The Indian countryside (slideshow)

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2008 10:53 am

    you get to travel a lot :)

  2. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 10, 2008 11:22 am

    Nita,

    Thanks for the treat. This is an area I’ve been familiar since childhood. I was born in Gholvad, my “aajoL”, which is on the coast not far from the area you travelled in.

    It is interesting to see how some things have changed while some remain the same. First the changes: the obvious depletion of what used to be a densely forested area; decent roads; primary schools (the nearest ones used to be in villages along the railway line, effectively inaccessible to tribal kids from the interior; the people wearing “modern” clothes — both the men and the women, although you have not captured too many of the latter; the prevalence of crossbred cattle.

    What remains the same, surprisingly, is the presence of bullock carts (though probably less numerous now) despite the decline in fodder production and the advent of tractors. This probably means that the area, on the Maharashtra side, is less developed than its continuation in Gujarat, just 20-40 km to the north.

    Incidentally, a purely academic point, the term Western Maharashtra is generally applied to the part further east, across the ridge of the Sahyadri. This part would probably classify as the hilly region of the Konkan.

  3. January 10, 2008 11:28 am

    Nice slideshow..could belong to any people who live in nature…in country-side..only diff could be dress of women.

  4. January 10, 2008 12:07 pm

    Ankur, I don’t travel that much but yes I generally like to go out for week-ends every few months.

    Vivek, actually I did get women in salwar kameezs (I guess that would be called modern) but as I caught them in the towns I did not add them here. Most of the pictures I took were of people in very small hamlets, with a few scattered huts….and on the road. But in some bigger villages (or towns?) there were women in salwar kameezs. I felt they clashed with this country culture. In the country I did not see any modern women so to speak. And as for the western style of dressing, it was nowhere to be seen. I think men are allowed to wear western clothes, but not women.
    But if you notice the women in the country have more freedom of movement and are at ease with their bodies. not conscious and trying to hide their body parts as if they are sinful. This was different from the women who wore sarees and salwars in the bigger places…these women were extremely conscious of their body parts, and continously adjusting their dupatta etc.
    it is a pity isn’t it that the more urban we get, the more conscious women are made to feel about their bodies.

    Poonam, thanks. Yes, country people all over the world would share similarities.

  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 10, 2008 12:50 pm

    Nita:

    //if you notice the women in the country have more freedom of movement and are at ease with their bodies. not conscious and trying to hide their body parts as if they are sinful. //

    This is not so much a rural as much as tribal characteristic, true, in my observation, all over India where tribal culture still survives. Of course as some tribal societies become “upwardly mobile” these qualities get lost.

    By “modern” dress for women I did mean salwar-kameez, which is making a lot of inroads at least in Western India.

    The other, more despicable, aspect of social mobility is that many tribal communities which traditionally practised bride-price are now switching over to dowry — a definitely retrograde step in social development.

    The other communities (I don’t know whether they are classified as tribal or not) in which women were traditionally empowered are coastal fisherfolk and mountain pastoralists. With clearly laid down division of labour between the sexes, the women HAVE to be independent decision makers and deal in business and financial transactions. I have a hypothesis (not tested or proved) that with the advent of mechanised fishing and nylon nets, reducing quite a bit of the workload on men, fisherwomen may in fact have become relatively disempowered. If you know of or come across any systematic study on this subject, I would be grateful to know about it.

  6. vivchavan permalink
    January 10, 2008 12:53 pm

    really nice… You are really doing great job. i have been fan of your blogs..
    country side life is actually our real identity.
    spending some time to country side always makes me fresh and always make me proud that we have such innocence and simplicity too.

  7. January 10, 2008 2:01 pm

    Vivek, thanks for that interesting perspective. It’s worth thinking about….in fact the subject of womens issues interests me greatly. It would be interesting to know how traditional occupations affect womens status.

    Vichavan, thanks. :)

  8. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 10, 2008 2:20 pm

    Nita,

    If tribal culture interests you, you must look out for the book of Sunil Janah’s photographs from the 1940s and 50s. I’ll have to fish it out for publication details, but it was published in a second edition by OUP sometime around the year 2000. You can in fact google it, and also see some of his superb photographs from an exhibition curated by his son, with whom I had put you in touch in a different context.

  9. January 10, 2008 10:57 pm

    Those are some good pictures. Even I found that tribal women play a much greater role in ‘providing’ for their families and usually work more than the men. They are always a pleasure to talk to.

    (PS: on a purely technical note, I’d suggest trying google picasa for slideshows, its far superior and the slideshow doesnt pan or zoom to some branch of a tree!)

  10. guqin permalink
    January 10, 2008 11:49 pm

    Nita,

    Very very beautiful, the place and the people. Emotionally moving for me to view too. One commentator said “…always make me proud that we have such innocence and simplicity …”. Indeed! China used to have places like this too and with distintive local architectures (you may not believe, some of those local architectures have unearthly beauty and show China’s ordinary people’s artistic genius), but they are dying out. India is such a beautiful country, so old yet so youthully colorful, so complex yet so innocent. Your pictures remind me many Tagore poems that I read.

  11. January 11, 2008 12:11 am

    Nita,
    Great pictures of rustic Indian countryside. Like Priyank, I found the transitions with zoom a tad distracting in the otherwise well compiled set. I’m sure you can change the transitions and not have to go to picasa(very basic) ? I use splashcast and it is very good. Loads of good features..

    Vivek,
    I must admit, I gathered a ton of info from you comments here.

  12. Rabindranath Tagore permalink
    January 11, 2008 12:42 am

    I ask for a moment’s indulgence to sit by thy side. The works that I have in hand I will finish afterwards.

    Away from the sight of thy face my heart knows no rest nor respite, and my work becomes an endless toil in a shoreless sea of toil.

    To-day the summer has come at my window with its sighs and murmurs; and the bees are plying their minstrelsy at the court of the flowering grove.

    Now it is time to sit quiet, face to face with thee, and to sing dedication of life in this silent and overflowing leisure.

  13. January 11, 2008 4:32 am

    //it is a pity isn’t it that the more urban we get, the more conscious women are made to feel about their bodies.//

    this is damn interesting a statement
    i had seen a piece on discov about the amazon indians and changes in their lives with modernity
    these folks would be naked all the time and women had free sex as per their will , children were collectively taken care of – just like in old vedic society but as progress and clothes, and tools changed it all
    life became more easy, people became more greedy , more possessive and more self centred

  14. January 11, 2008 4:45 am

    Thank you for posting this terrific slideshow. I really enjoyed it. :)

  15. January 11, 2008 7:59 am

    Priyank, all slide shows are not compatible with wordpress but I shall find out if Picassa is. Also slide.com has other option of viewing and I shall check it out. Thanks for your feedback.

    Prax, so you feel free sex and lack of self consciousness about one’s own bodies goes together? I don’t know as I am not an expert, but to my mind it seems a very broad assumption. I visited China where rural, uneducated women were not conscious of their bodies, worked in the fields in ‘revealing’ clothes and as far as I know free sex doesn’t happen in China. Thye are a conservative society.

    Brightfeather, Athreya, Destination Infinity, thanks.Ahtreya, I shall check out if I can change the way this show works.

    Gugin, China does have places like this. Last year when we went there we took an overnight train to Xian and in the early morning saw some parts of the countrside. Could not take pictures because of the double tinted glass. But the terrain, the type of housing, the people, everything was very beautiful and unique. The only thing that struck me was the even rural people in your country wear western clothes and both men and women. I saw farmer women working on the land in shorts and t-shirts…frankly I admire your country because of that. Over there the women and men are equal in this sense. Both can wear clothes that give them freedom of movement and even women can wear western dress, not just the men, without society labeling them as sluts.

    p.s. thanks for that quote from R. Tagore, Gugin! :)

  16. January 11, 2008 8:23 am

    Priyank, Athreya, I have changed the viewing style. Hope this is easier on the eyes!

  17. January 11, 2008 8:34 am

    Nita, lovely pics. If it’s possible to change the setting so that the slide show does not start by default, IMO that’ll be much better. Thanks.

  18. January 11, 2008 8:39 am

    Amit, that option is not available. Sorry!

  19. January 11, 2008 4:42 pm

    Yes the modified picture slideshow is so good that….
    … it makes me miss Maharashtra :(

  20. January 12, 2008 4:07 am

    Nita, what an inspiring report! I recall my trips to India and think the feeling you manage to transer is very true. The thing I love the most is the thing relaxing art of doing things. I have never seen Indians in stress – at least not in a stress we used to here in the west.

    Thanks for that great pleasure! I feel so much inspired that I also want to use that slide tool and put my Indian picures in there :)

  21. January 12, 2008 4:41 am

    Prax, so you feel free sex and lack of self consciousness about one’s own bodies goes together?

    not essentially – frankly im no expert either
    but it was a part of their tribal culture where everything was shared food children and of course wives

  22. guqin permalink
    January 12, 2008 1:44 pm

    Nita,

    China’s people wearing western clothing is mostly a consequence of revolutions (Overthrowing Manchu rule, Republic building, communist movement, etc.). It isn’t a good thing at all. If one wears traditional clothing today, people will find him funny or think he is making a movie. I actually admire that India’s people have the privilege of wearing their own clothing. I honestly think it looks much better than western clothing. Our admirations are mutual!

    Regarding women’s status, China’s culture has several dimensions. Daoism is maternal. In fact, China’s civilization is much feminine in nature. Court Confucianism only provides an structure to hold up the large country. Still, can’t deny that traditional China is a men-centered society. Usually very unfair for women. But, today, since Mao’s “Ladies hold up half the sky”movement, women are doing better, they even out-perform the men team in the Olympics. I myself actually feel very proud of our ladies.

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