Rendezvous with Kumbhari

December 16, 2009 Pune, India - It was indeed an extraordinary experience for me last Sunday to be harmonious with the kids of the Kumbhari village of Ahmednagar in the State of Maharashtra. The occasion was not pertaining to my work with any of the NGOs, rather a wedding of a close relative. I had been to a small village like this almost after fourteen long years. What pulled up my ecstasy was the soothing climate of the village, the simplicity and openness of the people, the mind drifting beauty of the sugarcane and grape farms and of course the feeling of being rooted to the soil. I must admit that the feelings are hard to be expressed. However, I must admit that despite several of our technological advances in Indian cities, the villages are the places where we get to see the real image of our country.

The wedding was an hour behind the actual schedule and this bestowed me and Pratik, my brother-in-law an opportunity to interact with the local village kids. It is doubtlessly true that villagers of the Maharashtrian villages hardly bother of a formal marriage invitation before they make up their minds to attend it. A good news spreads like a wildfire and this fact was backed up by the soaring number of the villagers gathered in the Wedding-Mandapa. Unlike the city dwellers where people hardly bother to know who their neighbors are, this just illustrates the feeling of affection and harmony that prevails amongst the people of the remote Indian villages even today.

It didn't took much time for me to realize that we were surrounded by some ten to fifteen kids, all in the same age group. In small villages like Kumbhari, the local Gram-Panchayat schools are the obvious choice for some truly economical wedding ceremonies. The kids knew that although it was a Sunday afternoon, yet they had a special reason to come to their school today. I felt like starting a conversation with these sweet little kids and as a step ahead with it, I started asking them their names. Valmik, Tushar, Vijay, Aditya, I started straining my grey cells as they kept on recording all of them into their memory. Once the intro-session was done, I was totally amazed when one of the kids asked me my name. Of course, I do not want these village kids to refer me by my name esp. amongst our other relatives. Inspired by the ongoing craze of the television reality shows, I decided to play some games with them. Guess my name and here you will win a gift for yourself - the deal was crystal clear. But that was indeed an unfair deal, I pondered. So we decided to give them some hints. It starts with 'Nee' - the clues kept on coming until one of them guessed it right. That was Aditya, who just won an ink pen for himself. But this was unfair, the other kids complained, rather jealousy made them think of numerous reasons why Aditya didn't deserve the gift. He is from seventh standard, Valmik complained. The majority of the kids here are from the fifth grade; hence your deal is unfair, the group continued. And it didn't even take me a moment to realize how grave situation I had landed myself into. It took me sometime to make them understand that the quiz had its own terms and conditions and that it was irrespective of their ages and grades.

The quiz spanned several questions from the school text books, something they might be finding uninteresting during their school hours. But this game certainly made them realize their worth and the power of knowledge. We were able to read their minds so easily. I was particularly intrigued by Vijay's answer to my Mathematical question - twelve multiplied by twelve. Somewhere later, one of the kids told me that Vijay had got me the correct answer after a brief workout he had done in sand. One forty four, he seemed so excited as he presented me the calculated answer. All he wanted was a new pen as a reward to his efforts. Amen, wishes were granted.

Talent has been deeply rooted even into the farthest vein of India. Unfortunately, I feel sad to see so many young kids deprived of quality resources and infrastructure for their learning. Many of these little kids are forced to leave their education due to lack of proper guidance, amenities or a much essential financial support. The village of Kumbhari is an epitome of several struggling common people living in distant Indian villages. My rendezvous with the people here was remarkable and the quality time I have spent here has enchanted my mind. Wish I could go back and start leading a simple life as they do. No, is the answer I get instantly when I recollect my life, its priorities and dreams.


  1. Most villages of India shares a common ground that you experienced... Instead of blaming and waiting for our government to reach the underprevilleged in farthest corners... We can also do our part in many small ways within each one's abilities ... but sadly most of us leave that to government and confine ourselves to put the ball in the governments court ... Wake up India!

    Nice to see that you gained important experience !

  2. Thanks Lakshmi for pouring in your valuable thoughts! I am sure you've made a valid point there! Unfortunately, a majority of us fail to think with such philanthropic way! India needs to cultivate such great thoughts indeed! Thanks once again!

  3. Very nice article Neeraj. Villages are the backbone of India and I enjoy visiting them. Unfortunately I cannot visit them as much as I would like to since I am 10,000 miles away. But articles like this gives me the sense that I am right there.

  4. Thanks Hari! BTW I had heard that you are travelling back to India soon. May be you can plan a visit to a village soon

  5. India lives in villages and unfortunately,the state is showing complete neglect towards the villages.
    I am not with the thought that why leave it to the Govt.
    My question is why not?Did we not vote them into power to Govern?If they are not capable,then they must make way for others.

  6. nice writing, and a nice deed

  7. "Talent has been deeply rooted even into the farthest vein of India. Unfortunately, I feel sad to see so many young kids deprived of quality resources and infrastructure for their learning."

    I completely agree....

    Neeraj, if we look around we can see many children not more than 12 year old working in auto and electric repair shops ...these kids mostly can communicate only in local language and might have never seen the face of school ....still one can see the mastery with which they rip open our machines, and fit it back after repair.....I think we are too engrossed by IITs that we fail to see importance of good ITIs.
    It is sad that our political masters continue think that our main problem is population but truly the problem is we are not able to convert our population into effective human resource. We fail to make good technicians, farmers and sports person from our villages......In shining India their talents gets lost in the dust of Bharat ...

  8. @Sunil, Your thoughts are seconded. I just happened to hear your radio snip speaking on the message being perceived by reality shows like Big Boss. And I really appreciate the point you have raised in the conversation. I also appreciate that you are a teacher by choice and your thoughts about our education system are valid. I personally feel that the way our universities bring up our kids in schools and colleges need a revamp. Today's child studies merely for securing higher grades in examinations. He is kept so much confined to the world of his text books and chapters that his innovative ideas and quell to understand the world beyond is literally killed. This is a serious issue. I wholeheartedly support our cause Sunil!

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  10. Yes, your article is very nice. Since I have studied and living in a village, I feel it very well. I feel happy with your interest. I am working with an NGO(green world) at my city erode, tamilnadu and involved in social activities. I am teaching as part time volunteer in my school and sharing my knowledge with my school kids. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    ganesamoorthy (my blog in tamil)