We spent a day in Chotti Haldwani (CH) after visitng JCNP. This is a model village built by Jim Corbett himself. Wow what a beautiful village. Acres and acres of green fields dotted with cute little houses. Canals of fresh river water runs through the village and the ofcourse the icing on the cake were the villagers themselves. Such down to earth, warm, friendly folks! Needless to say as soon as we reached the village the kids were excited to be there. After lunch we spent some time at one of the villager's house and then Shankar & I set off for the hike through the village. By then the village kids were coming out to play and Chellu chose to stay with them. Wow, she had made new Kumoni friends. We came back after a good 2 -3 hours but she enjoyed herself with the kids. I think this is true socialization- no barriers, no groupism..just enjoying somebody's company.
I do regret for not taking her on the hike. She would have loved it. We visited the house of Moti Singh ( Jim Corbett's dear friend and fellow hunter), saw and smelled various fruit & flower trees , walked through green wheat fields, talked to villagers and saw a calf that was born just 2 hours ago . Then with Chellu we saw silkworm harvesting. Just the walk through the village was heavenly. I couldn;t help but feel a pang of jealousy ..They are indeed very lucky. So many thoughts ran through my mind during the hike : Have we really progressed or degraded in our pursuit to so-called better lands and cities? Who lives a better quality of life- us or the villager? What have we gained by being weternised and urbanised, by our degrees and our work experience in multi-nationals? These villagers know which plant heals what, grow their own food, co-exist with the forest and respect the wild. They practice day in and day out zero waste management, recycling, water conservation & recycling, zero plastic use ..all the things that have become the "in-thing" in cities. Things that we cry hoarse but don't have a damn clue about .
I loved the fact that the villagers live a wholesome life that includes plant & animal life. We have become so self- absorbed in the human aspect of things. It can be very humbling to live with animals around- cows, dogs, cats , birds, insects..They remind us of a much bigger aspect of this universe. Humans are not the only inhabitants- we need to co-exist. The villager's house where we were put up has 5 cows and the first thing the woman did in the morning was to get them out and feed them. To get up and think of other beings first thing in the morning! Wow, I saw a lot of spirituality in that.
Its certainly not easy living on the edge of the forest. We came to know about the constant struggle between the wild and the villagers. The animlas come in and destroy the crops leading to huge losses. In turn if the villager retaliates its a huge loss for the wild animals. Finding a balance is the key. There are so many issues to ponder about . I felt these villagers were cut-off from the main stream. Nobody really cared about them. We live in utter negligence of the majority of this country. But I am hoping that our attempt at HSing will make our children aware of this majority..aware of professions that enrich rural economies be it agriculture, native arts, forest management , wildlife management , rural education that is not westernised and so many more. I sincerely hope my children don't end up joining the herd of doctors and IT engineers whose first aim is to catch the next flight to the US.
The concern is not just about what profession they choose but also about the attitudes and outlook they should form. The lifestyle for example- the size of their homes, the carbon imprint,the eco-friendliness ,the amount of materialism. In this respect HSing prevents the "fitting-in" syndrome- I have to do because someone else is doing it. It provides for a lot of self-enquiry and decision making based on one's own instinct. I've seen this with many HSing kids. They are very comfortable not being like others. They enjoy being different and really don't care about what others think.
We have so much to do here . We need to dedicate our children to this country. Our children have to be ORIGINAL AND TOMORROW'S LEADERS who can think outside the box and contribute their skills to the fabric of this country -its villages
And in this sense Jim Corbett contributed a lot. He re-instilled respect for the wild in the villager's mind. He taught them how to co-exist with the wild. CH is a must see. It inspired us greatly. And has rekindled in us the desire to go back to the basics again. Hopefully that will happen some day...
When we visited the Jim Corbett Musuem which was his house we were impressed with his letters that show his strong love for this country. He cared a lot and did a lot. Shankar & I were discussing as to how our history never really delves on such personalities. Even amonsgt the British were those who loved this land very much. And did so much for it.
I personally think this is the way to learn history & geography. I hope to keep rekindling these memories forever in my children's mind . And I do hope to visit numerous villages across the lenght and breadth of this country with my children to learn firsthand its true nature. Cause in the village lies the true Indian culture and our true character. And in this respect I am extremely lucky and proud to have Dadaji's thoughts in my life. Swadhyay as always will show us and our children THE PATH.