The Taste of Silence

Foreword: As part of a reporting assignment, me and my group of peers went to the village of Nandivaram near Guduvanchery, Chennai. It was supposed to be a reporting assignment centered mostly around food. Though, once we started walking around and experiencing the true spirit of the village, the theme underwent a magnanimous change. This is the article that I wrote at the end. :)

The absence of cacophony is almost disturbing. It is strangely peaceful this particular afternoon in the village of Nandivaram. No horns, no shouting and definitely no blaring TVs or radios. As we sit down for what will be a sumptuous lunch, my expectations of what awaits us on the other side of it are high; we’re going to tour the village today. And the lunch itself does not disappoint.

From dark shadows, people peer at us as our entourage walks by. They smile if you smile. They wave if you do. The children run away if you ask them for a hi-5. The late afternoon sun blinds us as we trek through the village’s dusty maze of roads.

We pause for a few seconds at a pond. It’s been months since I’ve seen a water source that actually had unpolluted water in it. The old men sitting under a tree nearby, eye us suspiciously; some crack a smile finally, with great difficulty, when a camera is trained at them.

Thunder shatters the air. Strangely enough, there are no clouds. We look around, puzzled. A thick plume of dust and smoke rises up in the air some distance away. “Dynamite”, our guide says.

We walk onward to a rice paddy field. They say all that glitters is not gold. They were right; it could be rice fields in the afternoon sunlight as well. The golden stalks sway in the wind with an air of magnificence. The sight is candy for sore eyes.

We continue into the innards of the village. Faces flash by. Happy faces are few; but they always return the favour if you smile at them.
We talk to a woman outside her hut. She tells us of her daughters, herself, her life. The hut is small. Comparisons fly through my head. Another woman nearby talks of loans and debts and her sons.
As we walk through the dark streets, we stumble across 12 year old Kausalya. She’s studying while sitting on the roadside. The stark beams of the streetlight above her barely do a good enough job of shedding light on her textbook. Somebody says that this was a sad setting. I tend to disagree. I rather see it as a triumph; a triumph of the human spirit. She’s our hero of the day. As we leave, she’s blushing courtesy all the attention.
We walk on. A woman is talking about her love marriage and how it alienated her from her family and her husband’s family. I think to myself: Love stories in India exist only in movies!
We talk to a politician. We sit in his plush, comfortable house and look around. With all probability, everybody was dwelling on comparisons.
The day ends where it started. At the same place where we had lunch, with the same people serving us. I realize for once, that the food and the village have entirely contrasting personalities. The food is spicy, hot, practically exploding on tongue tips. The village meanwhile, is dormant, silent. The taste of the village is the taste of silence.

3 Shitty Things That Can Happen to you on Your Way Back From the ACJ

In 1 month, the folks who live at the 'off-site hostel' (cooler name would be 'the Villa') had to put up with a lot of shit. Mind you, this is excluding the time spent in college; that would be an even more kick-ass list; fruit of some jobless night far away in the future I suppose.

Here's a countdown of the 3 worst things that could happen to you on your way back:

1. Get Mugged!

I'm not kidding. The incident that was the inspiration for this post. 3 muggers, 1 lonely assailant. Lots of bruises on either sides. No arrests. One mobile phone stolen.
Like this, only minus the knife, the hood, the fake knife and the constipated look. And did I mention three of them and the fetish for mobile phones?

How did this happen? Well, you have to look at the road we are made to travel through everyday. It looks like this:


Anyhow, this was voted the most shittiest thing that could happen to anybody. Moving on.

2. Swimming through Mud

As well drained as Chennai is, it only takes roughly around 5 minutes of train to enable the sharks from the sea to swim up to the Mount Road (or whatever the arterial road of Chennai is)

Now, water I can take. Water you can easily step on, and it'll dry off.

See? Perfectly acceptable. As long as you're tall (which I'm) you never need worry about sinking into one of those potholes that are conspicously hidden under this calm and collected exterior. Of course, the sewage canal poses a problem, but I won't go into the details in the interests of not ruining your appetite.

But imagine the same thing, only mud instead of water. There have been incidents of people who had to be pulled out coz they got stuck. Seriously!

3. Getting Molested by Dogs (The Canine Kind)

Question: Are there more tea stalls or stray dogs in Chennai? If you're a 'rational' person, you'd say: "Like, duh, as if the two are related. ':P'' (sigh) Well, it's simple, every tea stall has at least two dogs 'working' it. Two is the bare minimum mind you.

You get the picture I hope. Depending on the amount of crunchies they were able to get from there 'joints', these adorable looking, sweet creatures may decide to chase you, hunt you, or molest you. Of course, all this will happen on that dark road, so you won't know for sure if it was the dogs or the muggers until you get back home and see what all you lost.

This is Sammy by the way (or was it Selvan) who works our college canteen. (sigh)

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