The last two weeks or so have been marvelous. A five day trip to Darewadi where I met Crispino Lobo and Dr. Marcella D'souza and now a three day trip to JingareddyPalli, Kottala Cheruvu and another village near Narayanpet with Bhavana Rao and Dr. Subhedar. The least I can say about these trips is that they have been eye-opening in more ways than one and more importantly, stunningly picturesque.
As I sit with all those notes which I wrote during those trips, I can't help but relive all those moments like the one when I first crossed Takali Dhokeshwar towards Darewadi which felt so much like the opening sequence of Lakshya, when I climbed two stories up to see the spellbinding view of 1500 hectares of greenery around Darewadi Training Centre, when I walked the talk with Dr. Marcella for a long time, when after having spoken to him for fifteen minutes I asked the Managing Trustee of WOTR who he was, when I stood by the board in Jingareddypalli writing the methods of preparation of Amrith Pani and Amrith Khad and when I walked barefoot through the fields talking to farmers. It's been one hell of a fortnight and I'm sure I'll flaunt all those photographs of all those places for a long time to come.
A detailed report of my travels with Dr. Subhedar is coming out soon. I might post all the detailed accounts then but now I want to talk about the people I have been meeting this fortnight. Crispine is the guy to know, an extremely knowledgeable person who has the ability to spin a great story while holding the listeners in rapt attention. It is a true tribute to the character of the man that he is so humble, so much so that when I apologize for not recognizing him, he laughs away saying, "That's ok. Why do you have to know me?". Marcela Ma'm epitomizes the idea of a really sweet and affectionate grandmom who has a gracious smile across her face all the time and amazing experiences to narrate. I spoke to her for a long time on my second day in Darewadi and soon began to realize that beneath the all encompassing exterior lies the deep well of experience. All the people I met in Darewadi Training Centre, all those field officers from Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, the IT guys, the ICICI Fellows including Bhushan and Prabhat, and Romit have time and again had me realize that the dimensions of life are infinite.
I was sent back to Hyderabad in a hurry and without spending any time on the fields of Maharashtra by Kishor because Dr. Subhedar was visiting AP. Having heard lot about him from Romit, I was excited to meet the man and once we started talking on our way to Mehboobnagar I realized the giant wisdom and gentle humility of the man sitting next to me. Here was a man who was highly reputed, extremely knowledgeable and heavily occupied listening patiently to the ravings of a twenty one year old who was trying to show off his knowledge of Organic Farming and Masanobu Fukuoka. After listening to all that I had to say, Dr. Subhedar smiled at me and said, "Abhi hum aur aap baith rahe hain naa, aise hi hamari aur Fukuoka ji ki mula kaath hui thi." I thought, Holy Cow. Three days later while returning back to Hyderabad, alone and lost in my thoughts, I realized the privilege and the good fortune I had to be studying under one of India's most verbal propagandists of Organic Farming. Like Dr. Subhedar kept on repeating, "It is about revisiting the roots. We have to learn to work with nature. Agriculture is not a losing proposition, provided it is done systematically and scientifically." It is also important to mention here about Bhavana with whom I will be working closely. The kind of guts it takes for her to walk into a group of men, tell them what she's there for and interchangeably convince and order them for what all that is to be done.
Also, in the last fortnight or so, I met a Caucasian, a Stanford pass out, a corporate guy who left his job to try something new, the Sarpanch of a village who invited us to his house for lunch and a farmer who experiments with various methods of farming. I have also understood how Climate Change Adaptation works, what exactly Watershed is all about, what constitutes good soil and how to prepare Amrith Pani and Amrith Khad. I have visited places as diverse a training centre in the middle of nowhere where all I could see around me was greenery and hear nothing but the sound of electric lines, villages with open drains and lots of pigs, households with large front yards containing tens of cows with the smell of fresh dung permeating across space and the sounds of 'Ambaa' reverberating across time. I have walked the talk with an Executive Director, the Chairman of the Watershed of a village, 8 year old kids, an Agricultural Scientist and a big fat goat. I thought all this was Deja Vu because it is everything I've always dreamt of.
When I was walking barefoot through the swamps and the ploughed fields of Kottala Cheruvu, right at the foothills of Nallamalla Forests, Anand told me something that epitomizes all this. "You are walking with your chappal in your hands. This means you are ready for this."