7weeks in India – A travel to the past, a life without mobility

A remote world
A remote world

The importance of mobility:  For us in the developped world reaching from A to B is always possible, sometimes it might take some more time, but every village, every place is connected. If  some trains or busses are on strike we get crazy, but ….can you imagine a life without any mobility? A life where even roads are missing? Mobility is one of the biggest problems in the emerging markets – because it is critical to set up a sustainable marketplace, to gain money and to be able to escape poverty.

They show me their sheep and goats. They come from many directions when we arrive: the tribal women of the top of the mountain, in colorful saris, in a landscape that seems to be just a dream to me, a film, something unrealistic…

We have taken a very small secondary street today, one of those which only tribals and afew people with a special permission can take and went up to the top of a mountain. First we go on a small road that becomes soon a path only and finally just switches to a kind of walking way. Traces of elephants around… Our travel ends after ca. an hour at a point where a small river crosses and huge stones block the path. Driving is not possible any more. A short walk and then we arrive. The village is called: Dhoomanur, a completely different world, a travel back to the past. This is how I imagine people’s lifes in the 16th century in Europe. What do these people know on industries, offices, traffic jams, bars, the latest trend and beauty surgery? A life without TV…They might know about modern life from some magazines or they just get a first idea when they go to the next town – a few times in their lifes…, but their reality is completely different: Nature, sheep and goats,  huge mountains, green large landscapes, rain and sun – and water.

I see huts and small houses here and there, some are in a bad status, others have been repaired in the last years. The huge distances between the houses are unusual for tribal areas. But here, in this village people prefer to live on their own land. (In many other villages tribals lack of land).  A shepherd is leaning against at a huge stone. Probably he spends hours there, every day. What will he have in mind? What are his thoughts? What does he thinks about life?

At the horizons there is a long wall . “The government has started to build a wall and a deep dig around the village area to protect people from elephants,” they explain.

No water piplines: The tribals get water from a well, with a hand pump – on the other site of the river. Before they had the well, they just used the river as a water source. No electricity at all. The Karl Kübel foundation India and two other sponsors had helped to set up a community hall cum storage room. Inside there is a mobile recharger people can use. The building is a location where the self help groups meet. There are two female and one male SHG at this place. And it is a place of safety. Again because of the elephants…There are also a 4 solar lamps…here they can study during the evenings.

When they present me their SHG books and saving books, I am surprised.I did not expect that these people are one of the most advanced groups of this region in terms of savings: Just a few months ago the members agreed to pay a higher membership fee. The loans they can now there are more possibilites to invest now…

“Our biggest problem,” a woman says, ”is the mobility”. We have to pay for every transport and every thing we buy gets more expensive, because we cannot get it back to our houses. It is too far away. For going down to the main road and coming back we need to hire a driver and a car. We go always in many for sharing the costs, but it still means 100, 200 ruppies for each person and extra spendings for luggage…  money we could use for other things. “

I ask the women why they do not buy an old car, maybe together they could manage it. A car would make their daily lifes much easier. They could go for work down to the town or other small villages, try to get work as day workers, sell and buy animals easily, meat, vegetables, all agricultural products they have here on their lands… The last piece of the road could be built , step by step, couldn’t it? We cannot drive”, they tell me, “our husbands are often drunken. Therefore better not to ask them. We would need also to pay constantly for a good driver…”. First I hesitate, but then I ask them: “What about you? Couldn’t you learn to drive?” Silence. Then, after a while a young woman raises the hand and asks me: “Do you mean us? Us women? …What about you? Do you have your own driver license? Do women in your country drive a car?” When I tell them a little bit more about women and driver licenses in our countries, they listen and start to discuss among themselves.

Unfortuantely, I do not understand what they say, but I am sure that they started to think of something that maybe was already in the heads, but never spoken out. They will discuss it, elaborate, re-think and maybe, one day…

Just knowing that other women in the world drive a car  – and that it is an absolutely normal thing – can drop down bareers. Self-confidence will be essential to them to develop further their ideas. In a world that is that far away  …

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