March Cashew Nuts

March Cashew Nuts

A visit to the satellite city of Pune from Mumbai is always full of earthy memories!

Perhaps the modernization of Mumbai and Pune has literally jumped across and not swept the in-between areas which can be easily accessed through a turn in to any service road when going on the express highway.

On one such turn when I had to go to Visit Pali (situated around 124 km from Mumbai in Raigad district) for closing some old bank account, I got to see a landscape very green, very sylvan, and bursts of village life were a treat to my “concrete -tired “ eyes!!! If I can call it!!!

Pali is very famous amongst local Maharashtrian Hindus for the temple of Lord Balleshwar-one of the eight manifestations of Ganesha (the elephant God who has a temple in a distinct form). During festivals devotees throng this temple and the hustle bustle is palpable in the whole town of Pali. But this was an off season and middle of a scorching summer afternoon! And still there was breeze due to large number of trees. Indeed, it was a time to roll down the glass window of my air- conditioned car, and feel and smell the pure country air!

Goats -with the most bejewelled collars, cows -unmindful of the cars and trucks speeding across,

Women -everywhere -with head covered, both due to tradition and heat, going about their daily activity like their city counterparts, dotted the streets. And suddenly my eyes met these very frail women-tribal perhaps – sorting some kind of nuts or fruits. I stopped my car and decided to check.

Indeed, these women were very thin but there was an agility in their body language, a rhythm in their work and a smile on their face. Since they were tribal their local dialect was not very much comprehensible to me but they were sorting and peeling cashew nut. I never know and am a little embarrassed to confess that I had never seen cashew nut at this stage of its life!!!!Bare and un processed! City life perhaps disallows us to see things-au naturel!!

I spent some time with them and it was such a humbling experience! These ladies did their monotonous work with such passion and verve! Their smiles were infectious and uniform! Not one of them appeared to mind the mundane work. Indeed, that is why the government has in some areas put a limit to interaction between city folks and tribal as, this intermingling will corrupt the serene and simple mindset of tribal and fill them with the unnecessary worries of a city dweller.

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