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.


Vizag Junkie said...

It is still crazy how Mohana gave you chaps the most fundoo assignment yet. We had rainwater harvesting. eaagh.

jinxable said...

I thought everybody got to choose their own assignments.

Truth of the matter is, we picked a less fun topic, he gave us this angle. We're grateful. :)

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