These early morning rides from the farm to explore roads and trails around are facilitating a subtle kind of connection with the landscape. Knowing a space closely, in its directions, orientation, topology, people and physical forms drive this connection. In these rides I get to know the rhythms of daily life here and the many moods of these landscapes. It is June. Shades of brown are fast changing to green. The format of life here – of subsistence farming, living in a cluster of houses in a village with farms located around this cluster appears low key. Cropping cycles and agricultural calendars lie at the heart of the way people live here. In a way, it is a no-brainer that a farming village will be organized this way. Yet, it is fascinating to observe it and sometimes participate in it in every passing season. The question about a farmer’s drive to live in the village and if the people here ponder questions like meaning of life, must not be asked the same way as one does about people in other places and vocations. Beyond the obvious difference in form and nature of the vocation, there is a unique aspect here – of growing and planting. On some days I run the risk of romanticising the life and people in the villages around the farm. But objectivity is a risk too. It obliterates the lived experiences and narratives of generations that have lived in the villages tending to their farms.
Of what is seen around the villages, it appears as though these villages are orbiting in a different space. As much as they are connected to the towns and cities, they are also worlds within themselves. The pandemic affected world, for now stops at their gates and entrance arches. This strikes me as interesting.
As of today over 14000 lives have been claimed by Covid-19 in India. The numbers are rising much faster now. The country’s peak may still be several weeks away. Economic recovery and ‘unlocking’ is being prioritised. Public transport across cities is resuming, as are workplaces. The possibilities of revival and reimagination that this pandemic has offered are immense. By now I readily agree with Dr Swaminathan’s observation that ‘If agriculture goes wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right in the country’.