As a habitual city dweller, I have never ever been a good village guest. This point was brought home with a bang when my parents bought some farm land and built a house of sorts some three hundred kilometres from my hometown. It is a village in the most basic sense of the word. The nearest town is some ten kilometres away,the nearest city about fifty. Houses are few and far between, mobile network is patchy at best, the mountains are close enough to touch, surrounded by a forest teeming with wild boar, deer, peacocks and an occasional elephant. The only saving graces are uninterrupted electricity and running water. This is where I agreed to spend a couple of days of my vacation with my parents.
I’ve only been here a couple of times before. Then it was just a couple of paddy fields and the erstwhile overgrown plot where the house stands now. I’ve seen a lot of pictures from when everyone else in my family visited here and I’ve heard stories of the neighbour’s dog who steals footwear. But it is my first time seeing it all by myself.
The place is quite beautiful, something even the uppity urbanite in me cannot deny. It is very green and bright, smells and looks fresh even in the scorching all day long sunshine. There are trees and plants of all varieties around, with the Nelliyampathy mountains lending some relief to the otherwise flat countryside. The dragonflies and drongos and mynahs and colourful parrots make up the less exotic wildlife around. Today I even saw a peacock accompanied by three peahens out on a leisurely afternoon stroll around the paddy fields.
The house itself is rather small and quaint, with only a couple of rooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms, suited more as an occasional getaway rather than as a long term habitat. It is pleasantly cool, owing to the tiles and wooden thatch. There is a breeze almost all day long, perhaps due to the proximity to the mountains. I quite enjoy the noises of the night around, the crickets and frogs and I don’t know what else. At some point I heard very loud howling from the other side of the paddy fields. Apparently that’s how they scare away the wild boars from getting into the crops. The same noises of the night unnerve me a little later at night. There are no lights anywhere around, save from my room. It is like I am the last person on Earth !
It is true that I have been somewhat charmed by the rustic village air and the unpretentious people around me, but it is very unlikely that I will ever live in one for a long period of time (although I do rather like the idea of living like a hermit in a place such as this, whiling my days away, writing and doing yoga). But I do understand the appeal of living in a place like this. I understanding the overwhelming sense of being at peace with your surroundings, the overall sense of well being that comes from being so close to nature. Perhaps there is something of that early forefather in all of us, the one who exults at the sight of a sky full of stars, who gets excited at the prospect of clean air, who sheds an involuntary tear at the thought of food that hasn’t been sprayed with every toxic substance known to man …