Peggy Smith, India and the Commons Jan-Feb 2011 travel blog

Harvesting chillis off road to Kolzari

Wondering what it would be like to sleep here all night and...


Dinesh and Rewan relaxing

Me and the boys

Picking the abundant beans

Mukesh after a hard night scaring off a leopard

Mahadeo feeding the emu

The road into Baghwanpur

Kids at the Baghwanpur school

Goats provide a good income, especially around the Hindi Holi celebration and...

A young village girl who loved having her photo taken

Women washing clothes at one of the well sites

Mom and daughter

Usha getting a scolding from a village elder

Her Mom brought the parakeet out as a photo prop

Women leaving the village with firewood for the market


The long road to market

Rucha and Manda's mother, village elder


The sparrows fly into the eco-hut (windows and ceilings have big openings)...

A Raika caravan on the move to "greener pastures" (Agrawal, 1998) on...

Thursday, February 7-10, 2011, Nagpur, India

It's my last day in Nagpur. I fly tonight to Hyderabad and then leave from there for home on Saturday early morning. Will arrive in Toronto evening of the 12th. Will stay overnight and fly home early afternoon on Sunday (2:35 pm on Air Canada).

I've so appreciated the time I've been able to spend with Rucha, to share her and Suresh's way of life for a couple of weeks, and to learn more about Rucha's work, especially the Kolzari project. I just finished preparing a PowerPoint progress report for the project, using their and my photos to illustrate the initiatives they've undertaken, from emu farming to alternative energy development (solar and wind).

Rucha and I spent 2 days at the project, making the 3 1/2 hour drive back (during daylight hours, at my insistence) yesterday. The new chickens are right at home in the barn and the emu now have standing feeding trays so they don't have to bend over so far to eat. I took photos of things I needed for the ppt, including the dry fish tank, trees planted and the barn. I love the quality of light, especially at sunrise and sunset. And the quiet--so peaceful after city life.

I gave Rucha a hand cleaning and setting up the kitchen. There are lots of rats around because of all the grain, so had to clear rat shit off the cupboard shelves--yuck! Rucha and I had shopped in Nagpur for plastic storage containers and pots, so filled the containers up and put away the dishes. She has a locked cupboard to keep her supplies; otherwise they disappear. We also, with help from the guys, cleaned up the eco-hut, making one room strictly an office and the other a bedroom with 2 single cots, a desk and an armoire.

The first night we slept out on the deck again under the stars. With the eco-hut cleaned up the next day, we slept inside the second night. It was a little disconcerting with the rats scurrying around, but we were comfortable under the mosquito nets. I slept well and had a dream of being in a meeting where we reviewing a paper that left out any mention of Aboriginal issues. Rucha told me in the morning that I spoke a full sentence in my sleep about needing to have Indigenous people indicate whether they were satisfied with their treatment. While I was thus dreaming, Rucha tells me there was a big commotion because the leopard came round. Apparently, it was up on the deck just outside our window, pushing over a cot that was sitting on its side onto a metal can that was on the ground, making a crashing sound. The guys who were on night watch were setting off fire crackers, blowing whistles and making other noises to scare off the animal. And I didn't hear a thing! Good thing we didn't sleep out, although Rucha said the leopard is more interested in the chickens, emu, and dogs than in humans. Only "man-eaters" would bother people, and I guess the Kolzari leopard(s) aren't man-eaters.

In the morning, before heading back, we drove to Bhagwanpur, the relocated village 1 km from the Kolzari site. I got some good photos--of the school, housing, women washing clothes, carrying wood and taking care of families. Rucha went to talk with one of the elder women who scolded her, blaming her for all the troubles they've faced since relocation. Some people in the village blame SHODH for all of their troubles, seeing them as an arm of government, even though they have been acting as advocates for the community. Rucha takes it in stride, not taking it personally and patiently explaining her work.

We arrived back in Nagpur about 5:30 and then Rucha and Suresh took me out for Chinese food (with an Indian twist). It was a nice change of pace from our staple diet of chapatis, rice, Dahl, vegetable curry and Dali (yogurt).

Now time to pack up and look forward to heading home. I'm coming home with an extra suitcase...

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