Poshina and the Garisia villages

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November 25th 2018
Published: November 27th 2018
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We go for a walk round Poshina village with our friend, the local Adivasi chieftain, who stands guard at the gate. He took the rifle just in case of trouble, but all is calm. Hanu had told us that there were local tailors who could run up a copy of a garment in a few hours for 200 rupees a piece, so we take along a pair of loose cotton trousers each. The first tailor shakes his head, a second is called, then a third and fourth. The conversation is entirely in Gujarati so we never do find out what the problem was, but the answer is clearly no.

The chief leads us down some back alleys until we come across a small 15th century temple, which looked very mundane from the front, but we are shown beautiful carvings on the side and back. The temple guardian is desperate to have his photo taken, so David obliges. On the other side of the road are three chattris, no longer used by the temple but just a place for the local youths to hang out. They were probably once cenotaphs to long dead rulers. The chief shows us various metal working shops – just one room affairs with a hearth and an anvil and not much more – where craftsmen are making rather elaborate knives. It seems to be a village speciality. We wander slowly up and down the main road, watching the Adivasi and Garasia coming the village and unloading vegetables and milk for sale, as well as more knives and axeheads for sale that are being laid out on cloths at the roadside. The jeep in the standard form of transport around here; they are used as private vehicles and public transport. We watch a couple being loaded up with passengers; they clearly don't leave until there are at least a dozen clinging to the roof, and 15 to 20 inside. That must be a comfortable ride......we return to the hotel. On the way back we are hailed to take a picture by a mother who proudly holds up her little boy, who promptly bursts into tears at the sight of this hideous white man and woman, but mother is resolute that the photo must be taken.

Back in the hotel, David rapidly realises that he has a touch of the Delhi bellies so is not going to be available for any further outings today. So later in the afternoon, Sara goes out with Hanu and Mr Singh to visit some more of the local villages. She sees another local Adivasi shrine – again, just a low slung mud hut – which this time had brightly painted clay relief tablets depicting various gods.

As we drive along the road, the local Garasia girls run away at the sight of the Innova. Hanu explains they are taught from an early age to run away if they see a vehicle they don’t recognise. So sad that such a precaution should be so necessary, but child abduction for trafficking is a big problem.

We stop at a crossroads which should be teeming with traffic and people, as this is where the elderly grey jeeps that serve as village buses stop to let people board a jeep for their final destination, but is actually pretty quiet as it’s Sunday. It’s impressive to see how many people can fit into and onto a single jeep – we count at least 15 in one jeep, with the women inside and the men sitting on the roof and clinging onto the back. The maximum fare is 20 rupees or about 20 pence.

Next stop is a couple of villages. In both cases, we park on the road and continue on foot to avoid scaring the villagers off. The little boys are all rolling old tyres along, racing to see who can go fastest, and are delighted to see Sara with her camera. They rush over to see each photo and giggle with delight. The girls, by contrast, are very shy and turn away or hide behind an adult every time Sara tries to take a photo. Hanu engages in lengthy conversation with the head man, and eventually Sara is able to snatch some photos and show them to the girls. Hanu says that they have seen very few foreigners. A group of Japanese tourists recently went to visit the school, and at the sight of them, all the pupils fled into the fields and refused to return! Sara does not prove to be that scary.

The visit to the second village is almost thwarted by an aggressive bull who does not want to let us past on the path. A small girl who looks about five casually waves him away with a stick.

There is rubbish everywhere, most of it plastic. It’s partly the result of people being better off, which means they can afford to buy consumer goods. But because they cannot afford to buy a lot at once, everything is sold in tiny plastic packets – crisps and snacks, sweets individually wrapped, single use sachets of hair shampoo and so on. Even the free milk the tribal school children get comes in plastic containers. Hanu tells us that a tractor goes round Poshina every morning to pick up the rubbish, but the streets are dirty again by midday. Where does the tractor take the rubbish? The river bed. In rural India there is no organised refuse collection and disposal of any sort. So they just switch their rubbish from littering the streets to littering the rivers. From where it gets washed downstream, ending up polluting the banks, or making its way down to the ocean.

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27th November 2018

The real India...
...where boys vie to have their photos taken, girls run away and hide, and rubbish is consigned to the river. Thank you for taking me to Poshina - it's been added to my Gujarat itinerary.

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