Learning by the side

On the way to Bikaner

On the way to Bikaner

A field visit took me to rural Rajasthan. I worked and learned. From those people who are so generally and summarily discounted as ‘rustic’ that they feel apologetic for being themselves. And yet they offer so much learning about the very things that urban people make at once a fad and a lifelong quest out of. These are simple things like being happy with one’s life, accepting one’s life when they cannot change it. And being capable of hope, aspiration, and striving every day, every moment to move closer towards realizing the dreams.

First of all, they live in a region that is semi-arid. Water is scarce, and the terrain uneven. The ‘rural’ does not promise a village – you are more likely to find a settlement, where there are a few houses in one place, then you take a dirt road a little distance off and you find another standalone household .. and so on.

Kakku - Badhla area near Bikaner

Kakku – Badhla area near Bikaner

People live in small houses that receive electricity for a few minutes in something like three days’ time, and that too, is irregular. But men and women work shoulder to shoulder, and while the men sweat it out outside the home, the woman finds time from her household work and help in the farm for other productive work – such as spinning the wool.

Hand-spinning of wool

Hand-spinning of wool

Despite their hard work through out the day, they are neatly dressed, complete with beautiful accessories that can be seen from their sheer wraps. They pick up literacy along the work.



Some women find work at the center where wool is sorted and processed.

Tea Break

Tea Break

Packing the sorted wool

Packing the sorted wool

Some spend a full shift each day, sorting according to color the tufts of wool sheared from the sheep. Nobody breathes down their necks and supervises them constantly. And these ladies are quiet and engrossed. They seem unaware of anything called boredom.


It’s not easy for the men either. Some spend the whole day cutting the rejected, poor quality wool so that it goes back into the process or is sold off.


Some search for wool at the auction market open to sky.


The brief moments of respite are spent sharing a laugh while playing cards between the hours of moving the bales of wool.


When on the job, the keen eyes of these people sort spun wool according to their weight and thread count visually to the accuracy of more than 95%.


They all seem to treat life also like a big bale of wool. They got their lot, they have taken the delivery. Sorting, spinning and recycling – whatever they do, this is their wool, and it is up to them. They do it with a smile and with a warm heart. Because they have less money, they work hard to make ends meet. But that does not mean they have less dignity or no joy.

I believe that many depressed urban folks would find a cure if they lived in a village for a month.



2 thoughts on “Learning by the side

  1. Subhash Yadav says:

    Rural life offers us ‘Space’ (Akasha, both literally and figuratively) which has become scarce in overcrowded, apartmentalised (Apartment – where we live ‘apart’ from one another) city life. The sense and exposure to ‘Space’ definitely has a soothing effect on us leading to better psychological health.


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