Country Roads... Take Me Home...

Country Roads, take me home...
To the place I belong...
South Maharashtra, Mountain Momma

Take me home, country roads :-)

Well, I know that really sucked but my intentions weren't really to offend any of the Denver fans reading my blog here. It is just that I just can't resist singing this song in my very own style. This weekend was an absolute bliss with a long and dormant nostalgia coming back to life.

The clear blue sky wide open, the dry winds howling through my ears, that almost were dehydrating me and the bright sun staring straight down at the black soil. What a fabulous way to spend a Saturday afternoon, I ponder as I sit back on my chair and start writing this blog post. I had been at the country side or to be more specific the place of my ancestral heirloom after over a decade and a half. Things are never so easy in small villages - such as those from the Southern part of Maharashtra. In fact, the farthest and the most remote parts of the Indian country-side will observe more or less similar kind of conditions. Villages adjoining and comprising the District Solapur, Maharashtra is a no exception to any of these.

Being a geeky office guy spending more than a fifty hours a week sitting before a computer in an air-conditioned room, it was hard to imagine the daily activities performed by Shivaji Appa, who has been toiling hard under the sun converting soil into fruits for his entire life. A farmer - just to make it very easy to understand. He had just finished his lunch when I went to see him. He was so happy to see me and so was I. Hospitality and guest felicitation is usually no concern when it comes to people who live in small houses. But, I was more than a guest for him given that he had always seen me as a small kid visiting his farms during my summer holidays.

I was amazed to see the lemon gardens all around me. The air soaked with the freshest smell of ripe lemons rushing into my nostrils was enchanting me. Being a school going lad, I remember sleeping beneath the shady lemon trees that were pitch dark inside despite being a bright sunny noon. Believe me, nothing can beat the comfort of a quick nap beneath a shady tree on a sunny afternoon. It took a while for me to explain Shivaji Appa that I was much keen to see the farm and plantations he had developed than to see myself enjoying the felicitations of being a guest.

The very next moment I sneaked inside the lemon garden. Appa followed me and he seemed very excited to show me his work. He had developed a small fruit garden over the periphery of the farm. I was just out of the lemon garden, when I saw him gently plucking a ripe guava - all for me! That is so sweet of you Appa, I said as I expressed my gratitude towards his small gesture. You must taste this fruit before you say something about sweetness Neeraj, he said trying to insist. There were numerous fruit plantations and I just kept on following Appa - Mango, Custard Apple (Ram/Sita Fal), Chicku, Pomegranate, Tomatoes, Jowar, Groundnut, Chillis, Corn, Drum sticks and variety of different grains. He kept on describing the way in which he had brought up all the plants around. He seemed to have known the history of every little crop and every tiny shrub on the farm. His dedication and hard work was intriguing.

Later that day, we spoke on a variety of subjects, things that mattered to him, issues that haunted him and the unpredictable Rain Gods that conferred a short lived happiness for this year. His efforts were awesome but were almost always too much underpaid.

I asked him the price he gets per unit for his splendid efforts as I looked at the tender baby corn in the field. Fifty paise or if I am luckier, I get a rupee, he said. He kept staring into my eyes when I made him realize that I buy it for fifteen rupees from the vendor beneath my apartment in Pune. His old wrinkled eyes expressed nothing but contentment.

It was a matter of great honor for me to have the privilege of a bullock cart ride with Appa. I watched him passionately as he tied his two bullocks - Khillarya and Ladakya. There we began our bumpy ride through the fields and then ultimately onto the road. The sturdy bullocks were too obedient and Appa made it a point to take utmost care of them - to feed them and make them drink water thrice a day.

People from the cities keep on running behind tempting comforts. They aim for higher levels of luxuries and sky reaching riches. But the real contentment of life lies beneath the soil that was our source and is the ultimate destiny, I thought as I kept hearing the jingles of the bell tied around Ladakya's neck.


  1. I'd give an arm and a leg to get into such a wonderful life, away from the dreary monotones of a metropolitan city!

    What a wonderful journey you took me thru!

  2. Hey Rakesh, I can imagine the way you are feeling.. But, giving away a leg and an arm is just too much for the worth of it :) Ironically, Being simple has it's very own complexities!

  3. I loved your description and photos :)

    It reminded me of my college days when we used to go for a picnic to a friend's farm near Nagpur.

    The orange groves and the cotton plantation....
    Having Bhakri and Bharit....absolute heaven

  4. Aaahh i also remember my journey into konkan...:) botine...:D

  5. Yeah..this is our true India!
    The farms, the agriculture, the typical food - This is absolute bliss!

    Wow, great post!

  6. Your post is really great! Especially the fact that he gets 50 paise or 1 rupee...urges me to do something...but I have absolutely no idea as I am also one among who sits in AC Room all day in front of a computer and knows nothing....

  7. A lot of lessons to be learnt from shivaji appa, being content with what you have and living gracefully.....I do agree that it is still unfair on the farmers and lets hope to bring some awareness about it

  8. Wow great post..
    After a long time waiting for it..
    How brilliantly ur feelings are expressed for one farmer is really awesome...

    Sorry for late comment I read it b4 also but couldn't comment due to certain reasons.

  9. Hi Neeraj

    Hope this note finds you doing well!

    I just abt read thru ur recent post "Country roads..........." and must say that I'm deeply touched!

    I mean, we spend such a lot of time and effort gathering all the junk in the form of work, wealth and so much more, but to think that we attain true happiness when away from all of this is what is the ultimate reality in the making, I suppose!

    Your post took me through into a journey of sorts, something that I hope one day will be my destiny to come - to go away into the comforting outbacks and never return to what is known as the mainstream!

    Thanks very much for a wonderful post and a truly enriching update!

    God bless


  10. Great post.....nostalgic and touching...beautifully expressed.

  11. Appreciate your comments Old Monk! Wish I knew your real name!

  12. Loved your description and the photographs.

    Reminded me of the time we drove to Mulshi and spoke to some school girls there (while waiting for some work a friend had, to finish) another time we spent a weekend in Dive Agar.

    The thought that life could be so simple if one could live like that, does cross the mind...

  13. @Indian Home Maker, I second your thoughts!

  14. Hey Neeraj,
    I am reading your blogs one by one..this is yet another excellent piece.

    I could smell the fragrance of the earth in your words. I wish the country roads take you home more often!


  15. Wonderful post! Can't say anything else as I am speechless with JEALOUSY! I could just visualise your trip into the country and I almost smelt the lemons. :)