Today can be summed up as one of the most unproductive days, so far, thanks to my indecisive skills and my group-mates who have multiple viewpoints on varied topics of interest.
Till yesterday, I was very confident about me and my Tamil…until I met Mr. Augustan of Otherethothi, a village about 3 kms from Martalli. Apparently, he is a Tamillian too but I could not get a word of what he said. He hails from Metur, Tamil Nadu and I had to listen hard enough to actually find out what language was he speaking—Tamil or Kannada. His Tamil probably had a rural touch that I couldn’t grasp as easily. And on top of that, I’m supposed to be the bloody translator for the group. When the translator himself/herself doesn’t understand the language being spoken, God save the others.
Perhaps I could have made more sense of what he spoke had he spoken a bit more slowly. Also, a lot of words he mentioned were either too raw/rustic or too pure and sophisticated. I’m an expert at neither. A key learning for today was that a single language has multiple dialects. When I was young, I was told that Chennai Tamil is different from Coimbatore Tamil, which is different from Madurai Tamil and so on and so forth. I never bothered to care enough. Today, I’m faced with a kind of Tamil I find extremely hard to relate to. It’s scary to actually listen to your mother tongue and go: Huh? What? Say that again?
And, at the end of the day, you’re not really left with any positive feelings…which is a serious threat for some one like me.
Anyways, we interviewed Mr. Augustan and a Father at the village church there, had a look at the Milk Dairy run by Mr. Augustan who was also a former member of the Martalli Gram Panchayat. We took some bytes and shots…but I’m completely clueless as to the extent of it’s usefulness for the purpose of our visit. And, when the translator herself is at a loss for words and doesn’t exactly know which questions to ask, it’s a failure, to put it simply.
As a journalist, I’m expected to come up with “intelligent questions” (in the words of Professor Kanchan Kaur). And, I had none. What was worse was that my team-mates had none either. We ended up asking such stupid and obvious questions that I was actually feeling ashamed at the end of the interview.
I seriously don’t know what went wrong. How my brain cells stopped working suddenly? Why my pen wasn’t moving when he was talking? Why did I suddenly felt the craving to come back? Why was rural reporting suddenly emerging out to be a not-so-good idea?
Strangely, our day today did not start on such a horribly negative note…
We boarded a bus till some place that starts with V (it’s too un-pronounceable and forgettable to remember it now) as there was no direct bus to Martalli available in the morning. We took an auto from there and trust me, if you want to know what village roads are all about, you got to take this route. For those who love all kinds of rides in those fake amusement parks, I suggest you take village roads as a better option for travelling. You’ll certainly be rewarded of a ‘ride’ that can guarantee a pregnant woman the birth of her child by the time she reaches the destination.
We passed hilly areas, scenic beauty and cool breeze on our way and everything was stereotypically village-like. After having dumped our luggage in the Convent-run hospital (which the sisters had so painstakingly cleaned and made ready for us), we proceeded for Otherethothi. And the rest is history.
After the Otheretotti disaster (which, according to my team-mates isn’t really a disaster contrary to my conclusion), we proceeded for Sulvadi, another village that boasts of having the only Government hospital in and around Martalli. We were supposed to meet the doctor there, who, as luck would have it, wasn’t present and had urgently left for a meeting. Disappointed (especially more so because we had again taken the pains to travel on those Om Puri+Pankaj Kapoor-like roads), we decided we’d have to come back again the next morning.
Too dejected and tired to go anywhere else,
we I decided that we get back to our place and wait for supper-time when a promised supper with Mr. Bosco was waiting for us.
I have realized that this trip is a real test for complete indecisive people like me. I have no other option but to pass it…and that seems to be a distant possibility right now.
To divert my mind (and I seriously need that right now), I’ll rant about the villagers here.
I don’t wish to eulogize anybody nor sound cliched but from what I’ve experienced so far, I have noticed a willingness to share and talk to ‘outsiders’ in all these villagers. Most of them have mobile phones and are readily willing to give their numbers, talk for hours, express their grievances, share anecdotes and also show a genuine interest in where we come from and where our interest lies.
I have already build up so many ‘contacts’. I don’t really know how useful it is going to be in the long run but it’s a great feeling to be the embodiment of the trust of these villagers whose eyes sparkle when they see someone from the media trying to cover and explore the problems faced by these people who are literally dying in neglect and isolation.
To be very frank, they are an everyday reminder of what my responsibilities and duties are as a significant person from the media industry.
I’m quite worried, as of now….due to a lot of reasons. And I’m completely clueless as to how to proceed with my group. I seek help in any form from any one on Planet Earth.
P.S. Too long a rant. I guess that’s permissible in accordance with the state of my mind right now.