“happiness does not really depend on objective conditions of either wealth, health or even community. Rather, it depends on the correlation between objective conditions and subjective expectations.”
~ Sapiens : A Brief History of Humankind
Simple Summary: 26% of Nashik’s population are scheduled tribes. They live in the rural areas, getting a living from farming. I spent 3 days a week travelling to 27 different villages in the region. On Thursdays we visit the village of one of the ambulance drivers, who kindly invites us in for tea. Not just the ambulance driver, but every villager always invites us in for tea. In the tribal areas the project provides healthcare to the passing villages, organic farming workshops to farmers, provides local schools with books, arranges women empowerment projects that allow for local women to learn to sew and produce clothes for their families and even sell to make a living.
One of the biggest issues in the Indian agricultural industry is the over reliance on expensive artificial fertilisers and pesticides. So local farmers are taught to make natural fertilisers using ratios of cow dung, cow urine, jaggery and gram flour. Pesticides can be produced using chilli powder and grain mixes. They are also provided with seed banks free of charge which grow plants that are optimum to the conditions. Research is conducted at Agricultural Universities to determine recipes for the mixes and to selectively breed seeds.
One thing that struck me when visiting the villages was how simple their lives and mindsets were. The “Adivasi” (tribal people) of Nashik are a simple people. For them having 2 meals a day and maintaining good health is more than satisfactory. It is not necessary for them to even keep phones, buy new clothes or eat exotic foods. A simple rice and dal meal is more than satisfactory for them. Despite lacking such little material goods, they are very welcoming. Entering the village I felt like I was part of the family. Smiles wherever I went, offers of freshly picked monkey nuts, tea and water in every home of strangers who had the smiles of close family.
One conversation highlights our luxury of self actualisation in the west opposing the struggles of survival in the rural regions of India. One day we sat for lunch and were speaking about favourite foods, our doctor enjoys the sweet delicacies of Nashik including Kheer and Puranpuri. In my broken Hindi, I said I enjoyed pani Puri and paneer. I asked our ambulance driver, NamDev, an Adivasi hailing from a village with a population of 600, what he enjoyed to eat. He said
anything that is given to me.
Such a simple response hit me hard. We are fortunate to have the ability to achieve self actualisation, to think about what we like and dislike. What life means to us, what career we want, what spirituality is but for some it is simply about survival.