Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The bullock cart was giving us our growing bones all the required shakes trudging on the uneven road. But me and my sister were least perturbed as, we and our mom were the privileged ones. My dad along with my cousin were walking behind us. We were travelling to my aunt's house which is located in an interior village. This village is located in the state of Andhra Pradesh in India. There were no bus routes laid in those days. I was ten years old then. The nearest big village was few kilometres away. So a bullock cart came and picked us from the bus stop. This is one of the trips I have always enjoyed in my childhood.

The village had very few houses. The house where my aunt lived, is a unique house. My aunt still lives there. There is a courtyard in the middle of the house, and there is a well in the courtyard. The courtyard is surrounded on all sides by four houses and each house has a veranda before it. The well is quite deep. There were no bathrooms in those days. The women folk would get up very early before sunrise and finish their ablutions.  Men would just jump into the well, at the drop of a hat. They did not require any swimming training. There were no buckets and mugs in those days. They would use baskets made up of leaves and use them as mugs instead. We as kids loved the concept of bathing with fresh well water. We would splash baskets of water all around.

A typical day would start with people waking up to the cock's crowing. No alarm clocks were needed for waking up. Everybody slept on the veranda. In fact the veranda was the most exciting place for all activities till sunset. The women folk would be chop their vegetables, men would sit, drink coffee and discuss village politics. The cooked lunch would be eaten there only. We relished eating  food cooked slowly over charcoal fire by my aunt. There was no concept of dining tables. It was the ideal place for chitchat. People would step in their houses only to change clothes or store any groceries. All houses would remain open always. I do not recollect anyone locking doors. Only at night they would close the main door to drive away animals.

Kids would jump and hop from one house to the other, play hide and seek .Since there were four houses, everyones' veranda would always be bustling with activity. Since those days there was no concept of nuclear families, each family had children of all ages. In fact there were people of every age group. So we were never short of any companionship. If we ever wanted to get out, our cousins would walk us around the village. We loved walking through the fields plucking berries, groundnuts, mangoes straight from the tree. It was sheer fun. My cousins would just climb trees, dive into ponds and we would rave about their extra-ordinary talents. We as kids just loved being a part of it. The day would just pass by.

Sunrise to sunset was the most busy time in the village. The most amazing bit was the stillness after sunset as there was no power in those days.. The entire day, the womenfolk would be on their toes, busy with their daily tasks. Once the sun set, people would eat their dinner. Immediately, the entire veranda would be washed and thoroughly cleaned to make preparations for sleeping. They would lie down once it became dark. All these was very amusing to us, since we never slept so early back at our homes.

The entire area would look like one huge bedroom. Everyone would  lie down and chat till their eyes drooped off. We kids lying under the open sky would count the stars, enjoy the moonlit nights and sleep with the cool night breeze fanning us. None bothered about mosquitoes in those days. I do not recall having ever bitten in those days. Only during rainy season, people would sleep indoors. We usually went during summer holidays and never had to sleep indoors. We visited my aunt's village regularly during our school  holidays.

I took my ten year old daughter to the village an year back. I was surprised to see the way things have changed.  Televisions, mobile phones, gas stoves, refrigerators etc have invaded the village. People have no time for chatting. Very few people are left in my aunt's house, as all kids have grown up and migrated to cities for education or better prospects. Only a handful are interested in farming. The verandas look empty.My aunt still stays in the village clinging to old memories. She does not want to join her kids who have moved to cities. She remains the only link to my childhood holiday memories.

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