I will remember my short visit to the village of Gorur for a single moment. Call it inspiration, beauty, unfettered joy or simply a passing picture. As I walked through this village, passing quietly its little streets, observing quietly the repetitive chores of village folks, I came across a scene that is difficult to forget even as I write these words hours later.
To say “came across” is perhaps not the right phrase. It is to acknowledge that finite and perceptible space of time between seeing, registering the object seen and responding to it. It is to acknowledge the distinct phases of a causal response, between receiving and giving. What happened to me was quite different. Everything occurred in an instant. Joy came in an instant. There was no thought process in the chain of events. Perception was indisguishable from the response. It was as if the heart had longed for this moment and when it came, recognized it in an instant.
What I actually saw will mean little to the reader because the sensation of that moment cannot be described in words. It cannot be experienced even by looking at a photograph. It cannot be experienced even by me again even if I were to see the same thing once more. Even when I recall it from memory, it is only a remembrance of the experience but not the experience itself. The experience was momentary and is gone forever.
What I actually saw was this – an old man sitting at the porch of his house, some women sitting inside with the door ajar, the women separating corn kernels from the ears while all around them separated kernels lay in heaps, on which the afternoon sun lent gloriously its goldens beams of light. It was at this point I realized what it actually means to say that corn is golden. I could tell you that corn is golden, I could even show you corn that is golden but it is only when you experience it personally that you will feel that corn is golden.
I had come to Gorur to see its dam. As is common in India, every official is more authoritative than he his authorized to be. I wasn’t allowed to enter the grounds. So I walked along a canal that draws its waters from the reservoir behind the dam. I saw common and enjoyable village scenes – boys jumping into the canal water, women washing clothes, buffaloes being grazed in the adjacent fields, engineer supervising the raising of sluice gates and a girl gathering with her bare hands fresh cattle dung for kitchen fuel.
The fields around here are blessed by their proximity to the dam. Paddy is grown as water is plenty. Even some of the hills nearby are terraced paddy fields.
As I returned to take a bus back to Hassan, I stopped briefly at Pruthvi Binny Rice Mill. Machines did the job of what once must have been an elaborate social ritual in the cycles of an agrarian economy. One machine cleaned. The next removed the grain from its husk. The next separated the grain and the husk. The next polished the grain. Filling the grain into sacks was the main manual activity.
The village is 20 km south of Hassan and reachable by bus.