Excerpts from a Fellow’s Diary – Mango, the ultimate ice-breaker

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Month: April 2011
Venue: BIRD-K campus of BAIF
Village: Surishettikoppa village in Dharwar district of Karnataka.
Temperature: 40 degrees Celsius

Settling down in the sweltering heat of Dharwar was fairly easy, but mingling with the villagers on campus was not! For them I was an outsider working on some project and one who would leave when his work was done.

While my departure was inevitable, yet I was not there to do some “study” that generated yet another report but to lend my hand in improving the practical aspects of their lives. I was determined to create a mark for myself and leave behind a positive impact.

As I spent my early days going around the campus and observing how things worked around here, I wondered how I could get entry into the villagers’ circle of trust. And then it happened!

One fine day, I noticed a group of people working on segregating, packing and loading Alphonso mangoes onto a truck. This scene in itself is very beautiful. The lush green and yellow shades of the mangoes can be very mesmerizing. Not one to remain behind, I went and picked up one luscious looking mango from the segregated crate.

As I started eating while leaning against the back of the truck, I noticed that only one worker was loading the crates onto the truck while the rest of the group was busy segregating the fruits. At one point, the worker lost his balance and I instinctively reached out to help him – this was when I realized how heavy each crate was!

I thought to myself that I should help him load some crates to pay back for the delicious fruit I had eaten. As I stepped up to lift some crates, their curiosity about me got the better of them and they all started asking me questions which I duly answered in my halting Kannada. My lack of fluency in the language made it a humorous affair. Time flew as I was listening to their small talk, the jokes they cracked amongst themselves and I realized later that it took us 5hrs to finish the work that day.

This small interaction gave rise to many more such meetings of friendly banter, frequent exchange of eatables and built a foundation of understanding between us. Now, each time I think of this incident, I feel amused at how my initial greed to have a free mango had initiated a process of icebreaking.

SBI Youth for India fellow
Chetan Yaralagadda

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About SBI Youth For India

SBI Youth for India is a fellowship programme initiated, funded and managed by the State Bank of India in partnership with reputed NGOs. It is a movement for India's best young minds who are passionate about fuelling positive change in India. It provides a framework for India's best young minds to join hands with rural communities, empathise with their struggles and connect with their aspirations.
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