A village tour might be slightly sanitized but it does provide a sense of the everydaylife experienced by the majority of Indians
As we left Agra to travel across to Ranthambore National Park, where we had a couple of days of tiger safari planned, our schedule allowed for us to make a couple of stops on the way.
The first of these was to visit a local village to get a sense of Indian village life. We drove out into the countryside and through some small towns, past a truck stop and after which we pulled to the side of the road next to some fields.
Not for the first time on this trip, a thought crossed my mind that we might get dragged out of the car and get shot! Anyway, there was a nice young man waiting for us who was to be our guide. We were taken across the fields where freshly planted crops were sprouting and came across a family busily working on preparing food in a basic lean-to attached to their house, which was currently undergoing some building work. It was quite chilly in the morning fog, so they were warming themselves by a small fire. Further on we came into the main part of the village. As it was Sunday the children were not at school so they were entertaining themselves playing badminton (no mobile phones or TV for these kids) and they seemed to be full of joy with beaming smiles on their faces. All through our journey through India, we would experience young children, who despite the poverty and squalor they were living in, seemed to be happy. As we strolled through the village we passed small shops selling their wares and people going about their daily business. It was somewhat surreal as our presence was largely ignored (apart from the small children) despite being total aliens in these surroundings. Our guide took us to a very ancient mosque in the village which apparently served Muslim communities from all around the area. He proudly pointed out two public toilets (there were no sewage services to any of the houses) which served the 500 or so people living in the village. Having public toilets in a village is such a rarity still in India. For our final stop, we were taken into a small building that showed the work that NGOs were doing in this village, with a strong focus on health care education. Having spent much of our time so far in big cities and visiting tourist areas it was really a great privilege and experience to spend time in a village and see how most of India’s population live.