Life in the Village - Sonia Shah Organization

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After flying in to Islamabad and driving two hours to Peshawar, it was finally time for me to visit the village where all our project work is being done and where I will be living for over a month in the fall and spring. On the hour long drive to the village from Peshawar, it was somewhat daunting to watch the bustle of the city fall away, leaving only fields and streams. The big trucks and rickshaws were slowly left behind, until only the occasional tractor or tanga (a two wheeled cart that is pulled by a donkey or horse) could be seen. This village I am now living in, called Kangra, was my grandfather’s home, and the house that I am staying in was the house where my grandmother first came to live when she married my grandfather. Kangra is quite pretty, full of greenery, with animals and children running around everywhere. Any women walking outside are wearing chadars (literally translates in to the word for sheet, but is the name of the big shawl that women cover themselves with when they go outside) and burkas, as the village is small and conservative, and all the women here practice purdah (the practice of having women hide their appearance from any men not in their family).

I am living with relatives in the village, and their house is simple but beautiful. There are trees in the small central courtyard, and it is actually a very enjoyable place to be when the electricity is on and the fans are working. Pakistan is now approaching its hottest time of the year, and the electricity supply (especially in rural areas) is inconsistent. In Kangra, most of the afternoon and night goes by without electricity, and we are then reduced to using hand fans and finding shady areas to sit in our attempts to beat the heat. The villagers have a complicated system of regular electricity, a petrol-powered generator, and a UPS (no one I’ve asked knows what it stands for, but its a battery powered generator that charges during the hours that there is electricity). Even with these three different systems, we probably go at least six waking hours and most of the night without any electricity cialis-coupon whatsoever. Even in the cities the electricity is unreliable. The electricity here in Peshawar has already cut out twice since I started writing this post (thank God for auto-save!). Regardless of the heat and shortage of electricity, the village is a peaceful place, and I enjoy sitting on the verandah watching the chickens do crazy things (yesterday one knocked off the clothes drying on clothesline, and had to be helped out of the shirt it found itself in). My only complaint would be having to wrap up in the chadar whenever I go outside. Even the lightest chadar can feel heavy and hot in the midday heat, and I feel awkward and uncomfortable wrapping the cloth over my hair and face. Since its something I’m not used to, I always manage to wrap it wrong and then I’m stuck trying to re-wrap it while all the other women walk serenely by. Its a very different life, but its interesting and relaxing in many ways.

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