In the middle of Nowhere: My first two weeks in Trichy | Milaap

In the middle of Nowhere: My first two weeks in Trichy

The prospect of spending the next six months in a village and interacting with the people there had me all excited, but the only thought that bothered me from the day I decided to become a Fellow at Milaap, till the point I arrived here in Tiruchirapalli, was whether or not I'd fit in. Two weeks later, I can confidently say I'm very much at peace with my surroundings. People here seem to live in harmony with nature and with each other.

I live at the Gramalaya Training Institution, some 50 kms from the city. It isn't really the middle of nowhere but I like to believe that it is; there are hills, at some distance, on either sides; there is only barren land within a radius of five hundred meters; and the closest village is a kilometer away. The institution itself is surrounded by huge trees and is a lovely get-away from the heat of the city. So far, of what I consider to be a part of my rural adventures; I've had the opportunity of sleeping outside, on a cot, under the huge trees with the stars serving as a blanket; I've traveled in over-crowded buses, with my hands hanging on to the first window and my foot on the foot-board of the bus; I've played with kids (baby goats, that is); and I have washed my clothes in an open field, with the water beautifully gushing out of the taps, and me, squatting freely, with no one around to judge. I think I can get used to this life, quite happily at that. This might sound silly, but to do these things without any hesitation is something I've never experienced before, which is what makes it so special. Did I mention that the setting sun always looks spectacular as it finds its way to hide behind the hills?

My NowhereMy Nowhere: A view from my new home

I went on my first field trip, the primary reason of my stay here, a couple of days back. I had been looking forward to it, but was also a little nervous since I wasn't sure if they'd want to talk to an urban stranger. It didn't take any effort to hold a conversation with the borrowers as they are such happy, chirpy people. All I had to do was smile for them to warm up to me. People here are very kind and always eager to share their story and to listen to you. I'm sure this isn't something that is unique to rural Tiruchirapalli, but I've never bothered to find out elsewhere. The one striking thing about this place is that the women of Tamil Nadu are exceptionally strong. They are independent, hard-working and confident. They all seem to share a common dream of educating their children and providing them with a higher standard of living. Their determination to better their families' lives is remarkable. I'm eagerly waiting to talk to more women in different villages here, with their own stories to narrate.

Borrowers from SalapattiHappy borrowers from a village called Salappatti

I must say, I felt really lonely the first few days. Everyone has been really nice to me but I did feel the lack of loved ones around. Now, I am bonding with the people here. The lady who cooks for those who visit and stay over at the institution has been living here for the past fifteen years. Her daughter takes care of all the needs of the institution, from laying down the beds to making presentations. She has a year old baby, who is quite literally the king around here. There is an old watchman Thatha, in addition to various other women who come in to help from the nearest village. There are also two dogs, three goats, and a cat. This is my new family and I quite adore them.