A hot afternoon was slowly paving way to a pleasant evening in M.Rampur in Odisha. Having returned to Mahashakti Foundation’s (MSF) office here from field visit, I was relaxing in the lawn under the cool shade of trees. The employees of MSF were busy making arrangements for a group of AWO International employees from Indonesia, Nepal and Australia, who were to visit M.Rampur the next day on an exposure trip. Mahashakti Foundation and AWO International help local farmers to raise more varieties of crops- such as fruits, maize, vegetables, etc besides rice- by providing technical and financial support.Mr.Jugal, the Managing Director of Mahashakti Foundation, along with the Treasurer Mr. Prakash and the Project Manager Mr. Joganand, was about to leave for a reconnaissance of the fields to be visited by the group. Thanks to Mr. Jugal for asking me to join him for the visit. Without a second thought I stepped forward, for, I was sure the setting sun and the green fields will surely mark a perfect backdrop for an enchanting evening. As we moved from M.Rampur to the better countryside, the heat of the summer afternoon inside me started to fade out gradually. We stopped by a lady selling water melons which, I’m sure, were taken fresh from the fields nearby. I thought we were gonna buy one of those delicious fruits but Mr. Jugal started to walk towards the fields . In fact, these were the fields to be visited by the employees of AWO International the following day.As I followed them walking along the boundaries of the fields, I could catch a glimpse of various vegetable crops raised on a plot of land to my left; there were crops of tomato, egg plant and ladies finger (Okra). The crops were abounding with vegetable produce and it was a delight to see the hard work of a farmer bearing fruition. We stopped at a small hut like structure where the farmers take shade in between while working on the fields. Also, the farmers store their produce here temporarily.Taking a few more steps forward, we reached another plot of land on which maize (corn) was being cultivated. Nearby, I noticed many ball-like structures lying on the ground with vine-like plants around. When I was a kid, I was inquisitive about how strong a water-melon plant would be to carry the weight of such heavy produce. As I bent down to take a closer look of those ball-like structures, I realized that they were nothing but unripe water-melons.While Mr. Jugal and his team turned back to the hut to interact with farmers, I continued to wander around the fields exploring them and capturing the loveliness of nature’s surprises with the help of my camera. The first one I hit was a group of sunflower plants. There were only 2 plants bearing a flower. As I keenly observed the sunflowers, I remembered a common misconception that the sunflowers track and always face the sun. However, this behavior, known as heliotropism, is observed only when the flower is in its bud stage. A fully blossomed sunflower faces the east continuously. Incidentally, both the flowers were facing east direction, away from the setting sun in west. There was this sugar date palm tree, at one corner of the fields, rich laden with unripe dates. The agricultural fields and the adjoining road are home to numerous tamarind trees and all of them are set to yield in days to come. And then came, the most important part of the visit before concluding it. It was time to quench our thirst, not with water, but with few of those fresh, luscious water-melons handpicked from the fields. I just couldn't wait to lay my hands on my share of the fruit. It was a perfect climax to a hot day after bearing the brunt of the fiery sun. So fresh and juicy the watermelon was. As I took bites of the fruit, it just melted on and slid down my tongue like butter would do on a hot pan. This way, an unplanned visit to the agricultural fields in M.Rampur turned out to be a box of surprises for me.And the beautiful lawn in front of Mahashakti Foundation’s office is no less when it comes enticing the visitors. The branches of the mammoth mango tree are packed with bunches of unripe mangoes. Unfortunately, they are too high to be plucked by hand.And then, there are two pomegranate trees bearing flowers and unripe fruits. There is also a guava tree bearing flowers.It’s only a few days before I come back here to treat my taste buds with those fruits when they ripen soon.
A Refreshing, Fruity Visit To Forget the Blazing Sun