Somil Daga shares with us his initial experience of staying in Pusa at Samastipur, Bihar.
After 4 weeks of rigorous travelling [Delhi – Pune – Mumbai (transit)- Ahmedabad – Sayla –Ahmedabad – Delhi – Patna – Sakra – Pusa], I have finally found a room to stay in, into my 6th week of the rural development fellowship. Having lived out of the suitcase since September, I was eager to finally empty my bags and shift all my clothes into a closet.
So I bought a ceiling fan day before yesterday evening and started searching for an electrician to have it fixed in my room. As I started my approach towards what appeared to be an electronic goods repair shop, the shopkeeper saw me coming towards his store. By the time I reached, I could tell that he had already formed a perception about me, probably misconceived, having glanced at what I was wearing (simple jeans and a t-shirt, much different from the traditional lungi and banyan , or pant and shirt worn here). Anyway, it turned out that the electrician had gone somewhere and would be back in 15 minutes. I decided to wait and was offered a seat. What began as a casual conversation ended as an interrogation- I was bombarded with questions- starting from my educational background, to my family history, to my salary (by now I’ve become quite used to people here asking my salary directly without any hitch. It forms a major part of what your status is in the society and also determining to some extent how you are to be treated).
However, what stood out in the conversation was the look, not of shock, but of horror on his face when I told him that I lived in Delhi. “Aap Dilli, DILLI chhod ke yaha aaye ho? Bihar, who bhi Pusa? Kya soch ke aaye ho yaha?” He now had a smirk on his face, probably thinking what a half-witted person I must be! But I do not blame him for his misguided notion. For people living here, living in big cities is the dream and no wonder Delhi witnesses’ in-flow of a large number of migrants from Bihar every year so much so that I could not get a train back to Bihar from Delhi after Diwali, and had to fly back! Nevertheless, I was successfully able to convey to him my viewpoint, telling him that there is an increasing number of youth today striving to work in the development sector, and that it is not long before he will see more and more people like me coming and visiting his store. ‘A far-fetched dream?’, I thought to myself as the electrician arrived. I bid the shopkeeper farewell to get my fan up and working. It’s been two days since then, and my fan hasn’t started working yet! But let’s reserve this story for another time.