Tired and jaded by the modern world, many urban Indians are thinking about farming. Hoping to have a more sustainable lifestyle, they are returning to their roots. Or rather, they are returning to the land. But farming is not easy and the rosy dreams of becoming a self-sufficient happy person can soon remain castles in the air.
About 120 km away from the busy metropolis of Mumbai is the sleepy village of Abje. This village, in Palghar District, is a village of Aboriginals or Adivasis. Their land is protected and cannot be sold or bought by non-Adivasis. There are just a few tracts of land belonging to non-Adivasis.
My father-in-law bought some land from the village Patil and it has been in our family for more than 50 years now. Despite being so close to Mumbai, progress has come slowly to this village. There is electricity, a local school, and a basic healthcare centre.
They also have a woman in the local governing council ( Panchayat). This is not really strange because it is the women of this village who actually wear the pants. The men are too busy fishing in the half dried river and getting drunk on the local hooch.
Much has changed in the village since FIL bought the land but the scenery is much the same as it was when our family first entered it.
This post has photographs taken from a post published on this blog in 2010.
A visit to our ‘farm’ in Abje is always a welcome change from our routine Mumbai life. This unscheduled visit had to do with some issue that we had to deal with our neighbours, the Patils.
When my father-in-law bought the land from Old Man Patil, the designated law officer for the village, our land was unfenced. It remained so for at least 25 years. But now, with Patil’s son’s grown up, we had to ensure that our land was clearly demarcated and the boundaries clearly defined.
Land disputes are common and take years to be solved.
While we waited for the Patils to arrive, we watched village life go past us in a slow unhurried way.
Telecommunication has revolutionised this village and everyone has a mobile phone!
Smartly dressed in uniforms, the girls in this village are all educated
Can you see the famers tilling the land for paddy cultivation?
Despite modernisation, the land is still tilled by bullocks in the traditional way
The villagers are simple people but they are not stupid. Television has brought them up to speed with their city cousins and are shrewd negotiators.
They have abandoned their traditional bamboo and wattle huts for stone and cement and have discarded their loin cloths and scanty clothes for fashionable city wear.
And thanks to the rural minimum wage program, they are unwilling to work.
So if you have dreams of becoming an Urban Farmer, be forewarned. It is not an easy task.