My Odisha visit, this year was special for another reason (other than the fact that I had a great time sourcing new products) - I visited my village - Aul (Patamundai) after exactly 20 years.
For the past 2 years I have been visiting Odisha to source for Advaita Handicrafts.
At Advaita Handicrafts, we work with artisans based in Odisha and source our products from them.
The idea is to help generate work for the artisans & popularize local Odiya handicrafts outside in India as well as overseas. For more information on our products, you can visit http://advaitahandicrafts.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/Advaitahandicrafts
I started in Mar 2013, having just quit my job as a Banker. In between, I think I had not been to Odisha for almost 15 years or so. That's how busy I was, caught up with work & life.
Anyways, back to this visit - Its funny how little people change & I could recognize almost everybody there, as could they.It felt good to receive such a warm welcome esp considering that I used to be a brat throwing tantrums and refusing to adjust to village life even for the few days that I visited back then. :)
Nothing much within the village has changed except for a few villagers now having built & moved into brick houses in place of their mud huts.A large number of families are into selling milk and thus rear cows & buffaloes. This is how it's always been & that's how it was this time too. But I really was disappointed that even now in this age, the villagers & the animals live side by side. Animal dung & urine on the footpath.
It is important from a health perspective that animals be kept in separate sheds away from homes; but it requires the collective will of the villagers to understand and maintain clean healthy standards of living.Yes, the roads are better now as is connectivity & communication.
I was however particularly sorry to see that the Brahmani river had filled in & an island had formed in the middle of the river. The river earlier used to be full of water & there used to be swimming competitions among villagers to swim across and in fact on several occasions in the past it had gone into spate during heavy rains.We'd go bathing there during our visits & how we'd refuse to come out of the river!
I also stayed at my aunt's place and was enchanted by their Bari. A bari is actually a kitchen garden attached to village houses. Took some beautiful snaps of the produce. I had never myself seen a pineapple shrub, or for that matter any of the vegetable plants like ladies finger, Red Chilly, Bitter gourd etc, that she & her relatives had painstakingly grown.
What a treat for Advait & Vedika (my children), it turned out to be - they were fascinated by the pictures. :)