I checked one thing off my bucket list, this weekend. Visiting a village. As a city-bred brat, I have never set foot in an actual village. I have always envied my friends who used to go to their grandparents’ villages during summer vacations. So, a day in Vellankondagarm (aka V.K.Agaram) fulfilled that long-time wish and also gave some perspective on a lot of things. I am going to share all about that experience and also wanted people to know about the good work of National Agro Foundation(NAF), an NGO for rural development.
V.K.Agaram is about 60Km from Chengalpattu. It took us around 3 and a half hours to get there. Our first stop was Chunambedu. We were welcomed with some Kezhveragu Kanji(Millet porridge) and Panakam. After our healthy breakfast, we were briefed about NAF and their development initiatives through efficient water conservation techniques, agricultural tools to increase farming productivity and the like. V.K.Agaram was one village which used to get badly hit during every flood, it seems. Hence the name Vellamkondagaram (Vellam meaning Flood). My company partnered with NAF, helped in rehabilitating the village and built sustainable development ventures for the long run. We were given a tour of the different crops grown there like Beetroot , fenugreek, potato, etc., and the various farming practices adopted.
After our brief stop in Chunambedu, we reached V.K.Agaram at last. I got to meet some fascinating people there. There was this cute little girl, 6 year old Vaishani who kept us entertained with her hilariously honest observations. A huge Vijay fan, she sang some of his hits to us. Then there was Trisha, the ring leader of her little gang. I don’t think I will ever forget her face – hair braided with a tiny Kunjalam dangling precariously as she was jumping from one place to another. As we went around some parts of the village, I noticed that there were very few concrete houses. Almost all the houses in the vicinity were small huts.
We were so lucky to be invited into one of them. Rajeshwari(Right, in the picture), lives with her Mother. She was beaming with pride that out of all her siblings, only she carried on the family tradition of farming. In addition to farming, she is also quite adept at tailoring and electrical wiring. Through her we learned about the difficulties that the villagers were facing in day-to-day life. For instance, the village has no transport facilities. No government buses or railway stations. So, the children have to walk 5 Kms every day for School. 5Kms !
In the evening, we had a funfair for the villagers with games like Bambaram, Uri Adi and Balloon fights. I think the kids enjoyed the stalls very much. When we were returning to our bus I noticed something. So many stars in the sky. When was the last time I saw so many stars in the sky? I can’t remember. With so much light pollution in our cities, we hardly see so many stars these days. Or have we forgotten to take a moment and notice such things? Walking there in the narrow road with absolutely no street lights (not exaggerating), I couldn’t help but wonder about a lot of things. It gave some perspective on my “ first world problems” . Lesson: May be a little less whining from now on.