Rural India Revisited

True to my word, I and my friend E set off for Damka village on Sunday morning. That’s right, we were excited enough to sacrifice Sunday morning sleep for this excursion.

We left from home at 6:15 am and stopped at ONGC Bridge, which is built over Tapi River, to photograph the sunrise. The air was humid and cool when we got off at the bridge. Few vehicles and joggers passed us and gave us curious looks. Boats, anchored on different spots on the river, floated lazily. These boats always fascinated me. Maybe because I love water. Or, maybe because it was just odd to see them floating so silently, all by themselves.

DSC00367Sun rise view from ONGC bridge

DSC00375The boats

The small number of dwellings on the bank of the river was quiet except for a few fishermen preparing their boats to leave for work. They pushed the boat into the water (looked like it look a lot of efforts to do that) and the boat set off noisily, up the river.

We moved on the near-empty Hazira road towards Damka Village. I had attended a marriage function in this place a few days ago and was keen to see how it looked during day time. The narrow road was now clear except for few cyclists and cowherds. The sun looked beautiful rising beyond the long barren strip of land.

We reached the quiet village and parked the car beside a tiny shop. There were hardly any people outside. Looked like the village wakes up late on Sundays too! I had not been able to see clearly in dark which I could see now – a well, cow sheds and heaps of dry manure & dry twigs outside tiny houses. I spotted a huge banyan tree in front with a round shaped cement platform below it. ‘Damka Gram Panchayat’ read an engraved tile on the side. I couldn’t hold my excitement. This is exactly what we see in movies and read in books! They must be holding Panchayat meetings here to make important announcements and discuss major issues. Panchayat meetings are ALWAYS held below a banyan tree.

DSCN4345The Panchayat place

I did feel weird going out like this – clicking strangers and their houses. But I wanted to do this badly and wanted to give it a try. This was required so that I let go of my inhibitions and break the barrier of my mind.

The only sounds that interrupted the quiet were the chirping of birds, mooing of cows, cawing of crows and cock a’doodle doos of roosters. We had to talk to each other in whispers.

DSCN4352A typical house

As we stood in front of a house, admiring and shooting it, a lady carrying 2 steel pots on her head, walked out and saw us. Her interrogation started.

She: Where have you come from? (In Gujarati)

E: From Surat city.

She: Where are you going? The marriage house?

E: No. Just like that. Seeing around.

She: What are you doing here? (She doesn’t believe us. And she suspects us.)

E: Just taking snaps.

A questioning pause. She stares at both of us.

She: What will you do with them?

I almost burst out laughing.

E: Err. Just like that. Actually we are new in the city.

A long pause and some more staring. She finally walked away. I thought she would never go away. Now, I thought, she and the other ladies of the village have something to talk about for the next 2 days!

As we walked along, few girls sitting at their doorsteps saw us and giggled. That definitely broke the barrier!

DSCN4341A lone woman, carrying pitchers, walks on a path

The locality was very neat; the boundary-less houses diligently maintained. Some houses were broken down, some new, some antique, some colourful and some modern. Each house was unique in itself. There were houses as old as 30 years old.

DSCN4351An antique door of a house

DSCN4358Another of those colourful doors

The villagers were starting their daily chores slowly. Cowherds took their cows and buffaloes for feeding. Women carried pots of water to fill water. Women swept the front of their houses. We crossed the marriage house where people had woken up and were beginning to prepare for another day of celebration.

DSCN4350A woman picks up cow dung, dropped by a group of buffaloes which just passed on that path. Dry dung is used as a fuel to light fire in kitchen stoves

DSCN4367We work together: A man shaves the beard of another man.

DSCN4375A boy sleeps on a cot outside his house. This was a common sight.

DSCN43742 women draw water out of a well

DSCN4373Signs of a freshly swept ground

After wandering around in various lanes and clicking to our satisfaction and avoiding old men who called us to talk to them, we walked back towards the car. The village was up now and was bustling with the usual morning activities. Like their houses, their relations also didn’t seem to have any boundaries. They performed their chores while talking to and laughing with each other, sometimes looking at us and commenting.

We left from there satisfied and I concluded that it was a good trip – totally worth the sacrifice of sleep made by us!

DSCN4363Mud pitchers lying huddled on a ground

Categories: India, Surat, Travel | Tags: , , , , | 11 Comments

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11 thoughts on “Rural India Revisited

  1. Just dropped in to say hi! Love your photos – especially the one of the woman carrying water! I wonder have the villagers stopped talking about you yet?!?!

    Have a great day!!

    • Ha! Hey thanks 🙂 Glad u liked the snaps. Read on if you find India interesting!!

  2. E

    wonderful! The beard pic came out well! =)

  3. I am new to the city of Ahmedabad. This was such a nice peek into the rural side of the state of Gujarat. 🙂

    Love the photos. So well taken. 🙂

    • That’s fantastic !! How r u finding Gujarat??? Any plans of coming to Surat??

  4. I am working for the Mirror presently. I would love to visit Surat. I really want to travel. I hear gujarat is beautiful inside 🙂 so hopefully i will visit 🙂

    • Oh please do! You should visit north & Western Gujarat – Diu, Gir, Somnath, Dwarka, Junagadh and all. Really beautiful and historical

  5. Pingback: Me & My Homes–Part 3: Surat « My bittersweet world

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  8. Enjoyed the post………. Well written & nice photographs!

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