Morning walk in the Uttar Pradesh farming community
This is the Uttar Pradesh country side, a farming community. The first night we hit the sack at about 21:30 and we woke at 05:30 and it feels good. Bhagat Ji brought the tea, rich with spices and ginger I think, and sweet enough to tempt a bee. The fresh air knocked me out last night.
My first morning’s walk in this Uttar Pradesh farming community was about 6km down little country roads with its fragrant verges. I still can’t take in the wild cannabis everywhere. So I put a pic on Facebook. We strolled amongst the fields of sugar cane, the green fodder (which Mickey tells me is a barley) that grows to ten feet tall, maize, lentils and pulses and rice. The smell of the growing rice is heavy in the still humid air.
People are in the fields cutting these crops by hand. Families, neighbours working side by side. No big machinery here just honest labour. The transport is buffalo driven carts. In one field is a neighbour of Mickey’s harvesting corn. They stop to talk. Namaste. I’m inspected. And why not? A white man in a sea of happy brown faces. Apparently this corn is someone else’s but this group are harvesting it in exchange for the plant matter that will be used to feed livestock. No tax man here this is a farming community where barter is practiced! We stop and talk to an elderly man having a rest. He too is a neighbour of Mickey’s and this is his abode in the picture. These people have been up for hours working. We’re the lazy ones.
The Jat, Jut or Jaat people of Uttar Pradesh
Mickey had told me that these people are Jats, they originated in Jutland, northern Denmark. It’s hard to imagine these people being of Scandinavian origin but as you’ll see in the linked articles    there is some basis for this assertion.
There are kingfishers on the electrical wires, white long-necked birds whose name I’ve yet to find out, peacocks, the national bird, roam wild and they are tricky and cunning. Getting a photo is no easy matter. Neem trees grow all over. The neem is known for it’s benefit to health, so I’m munching the leaves daily. There are mango orchards. (Oh why didn’t I come a month earlier?) This is the land of plenty.
Second walk in the farming community
Our second day’s walk we walk a circle, meeting up with where we were the day before. More neem for breakfast. Passing through the village of Singanapura we hear an English class in the primary school.
I is for ice cream.
I is for India.
A young man stops on on his motor bike. His English is good and he’s called Pawan. Pawan has just passed his exams to be a policeman and is waiting his first posting at the end of this month. As in UK (and I guess elsewhere) he will be sent out of his area to serve. We meet his grandfather and a village elder, both in their eighties. I pose for photos with them. Let’s face it, I’m an interest factor. In return the two elders pose for me. Pawan invites us back for tea. We accept the invitation but ask if we might walk a little further first.
I guess the news has hit the street of this farming community. Pawan has a foreigner coming for tea. Passing the primary school on our return we are greeted by the teacher of I is for ice cream. This is Manpreet Singh Khaira and he comes from Hapur to teach these children. He welcomes us and invites us to see his class. They are youngsters, maybe around 6 to 7 years old (I forgot to ask) some may be younger. I think they are a bit overawed by the white foreigner but they recite their english alphabet well. It is a classroom with no books. This is on purpose. It is also where they get their government lunch. And it’s nearly lunch time. I pop next door to what would be the kindergarten in Europe. The hindi alphabet is on the blackboard. This is where I belong! I pose for photos with some of the children, Manpreet, his principal and a colleagues.
The school uniforms
We are just taking our leave to go for tea when we are called back. Would I do them the honour of presenting some of the children with their new uniforms? I promise you the honour was all mine. I was sat at a desk with the new packaged uniforms. The children’s names were read off the labels. Let’s face it, I hadn’t a hope of reading this beautiful script. I’d only stuck my nose into the kindergarten room with the letters on the blackboard. The children accepted the uniforms with the “namaste” greeting, which I returned not knowing if that was correct or not. But no one corrected me and it seemed the right thing. I have to say I found the whole thing quite emotional. These folk are probably the most friendly, open people I have ever met. And I say again, it was an honour and a privilege above my station to have been allowed to not only see but participate in their day.
We walk back to the centre of the village in this farming community, to Pawan’s family house. Cold water is served while the tea is made. It transpires that one of Pawan’s ancestors (probably his great grandfather) was a freedom fighter. Freedom from the British rule. Pawan earned credits in his police entrance application for having an ancestor that was a freedom fighter.
We are accompanied by Manpreet Khaira and a colleague. Little snacks appear and the rich tea is served. Tea here is taken like coffee in Europe, in little cups. We talk about the education of the children and how difficult it is for them to maintain a standard of english in a tiny village where everyone speaks hindi. But english is one of the national languages for which these children will probably never have a use. Manpreet and I exchange emails, facebook, phone numbers etc. and I am told that if there is anything he may do for me or any help he can give that I am not to hesitate in contacting him.
Why isn’t the rest of the world like this? I think we may have a lot to learn from India – AGAIN.
Uttar Pradesh farming communities
Seeing some of these farming community villages, some would be lead to think “poverty”. You would be wrong. These people are educated people with rich lives that Europe has long left behind in it’s obsession with consumer driven capitalism and a “free market economy”. I feel at home here and I’ve only been here a few days. In some sense I am dreading my return to Delhi for the remainder of my dental treatment.