The field study on vegetable hawkers from Kuppam has been an interesting experience on several fronts. From a traveller who went a little beyond what he saw to an anthropology enthusiast who wanted to explore how Clifford Geertz’s ant’s eye view of development can be effectively employed in multi-layered study like this one, it has been a valuable experience.
The second set of field notes (first set here) reflect the sort of titration point that we reached in striking relationship with the hawkers. The rapidity that sets from day 5 onwards is a pattern that I have seen in our earlier works as well. A lesson that comes home again is that in field studies and investigations where several factors are not known or are uncertain, one must still persevere. It is important not to get disheartened or drop out of interest in the first week of a field study because the difficulties of the first days are the very same which at first look insurmountable challenge but later become a key theme in the study. And surviving that first week sets you free. For example, in our study it got very difficult for us to gain a sense of physical and social spread of the town we were living in. Adding to this was the fact that we did not know if there are a sizeable number of hawkers from this town. Both these unknowns in the later part of the study reveal themselves in a manner that it strengthens the study in terms of insights. Once this sets in the disjoint observations from earlier days suddenly start making sense and we have multiple layers of the entire study taking shape.
So, here is the second set with which we ended our study. Back in the university, we set up a small poster exhibition which highlights some parts of our study.