One of borrower's kids during an interviewLast week my laptop died and I think a part of me died with it too. To be specific my hard-disk crashed or to be more specific, I lost everything. I can't even begin to explain the shock I went through after the problem had been detected and the expenses were summed up. It was a disaster. And, I was to head out next morning on a field trip to Saurashtra. The tragedy of it all. So anyway, as I had no choice, I had to leave my ailing laptop behind and head out the next day.
A Borrower's Grocery StoreSaurashtra is the westernmost region of Gujarat and it consists of seven districts. We were to visit Surendranagar district in particular. My interest behind this field visit was more to do with Dhrangadhra. Dhrangadhra is one of the many Prayas centers in this district. It is also another area of Milaap borrowers. I was very keen to understand the women from this region and how the loan had impacted their lives. Women from Dhrangadhra come from a long-standing tradition of family businesses. They have been part of the process for very long whether it was in the creation, sourcing or distribution of the product. What makes the Milaap borrowers different from the other businesswomen in Dhrangadhra? It is their need for independence. They had an idea, took the loan and executed the idea. Now, they bring an added income in the family. These women are incredibly hands-on. They travel to places like Surat and Ahmedabad every 15 days, to buy material in wholesale. Then, make these products from scratch whether it is agarbatti (incense), Gujarati snacks, salwar suits or cleaning agents. After which, they either sell the products in their shops or go on cart-rounds around town. It was very inspiring to meet these women and hear their stories of success.New area and no new food? It would have been a crime to leave Saurashtra without trying the delicious Kathiawari food. Without getting into details, let me just say, I explored and indulged. I wrote my entire experience in a journal and clicked numerous pictures through my camera. Harsh as it might sound, I really didn't miss my laptop. It's amazing how we get caught up in trivialities without even realizing it.