Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Cotton Journey – Madhya Pradesh (MHOW)

Hello peopleThis time I am going to take you to MHOW (military headquarters of war) in Madhya Pradesh, India.. but this story is not about soldiers or wars.. well in a way it is.. It is about a place where farmers work day and night to produce cotton and other main crops.. these soldiers in the villages of India, fighting a war to earn their livelihood have very less choices that force them to adhere to farming methods that are cheap, but very harmful to sustainability of their farms, their health and ecology at large.. I am also going to tell you about the experiences that me and my friend Kritika (kittu) had on this journey.

Well i am a little late in writing this blog, actually almost a month, but every bit of it is worth telling. It is about a journey that showed me some of the new and surprisingly adventurous thoughts and feelings that I had in me..

It all began with my Minor project for this term, on which, me and Kittu are working together ( as I have told you before, these projects are not so minor. 🙂 ). One fine day we both discovered our love for sustainable fashion and decided to work together. Upon consulting our mentor, Mrs. Pritika Bawa (NIFT), it occurred to kittu that her uncle is the managing director of an organic cotton producing organisation, BioRe India, in Madhya Pradesh, and surprisingly when she asked me if we should go there for some research, i said yes before my next blink.. That is one of my new sides that I discovered on this trip, being super spontaneous..

So we booked our train tickets on my birthday (22nd march), and I guess it was my birthday luck and kittu’s super skills that we managed to book tickets 2 days before the journey.. After two crazy days of my birthday celebrations and no sleep, we embarked on a journey to Indore on the third day with a lot of unanswered questions and without any return tickets (trust me.. it requires some guts to do that when you already have short attendance in one subject in college… ) .. but we still decided to enjoy the trip with our new found courage and adventurous spirit .. 😉 .. On the train, we watched India-Australia World Cup quarter-final match, and everybody on that train was enthusiastic and celebrating as if they knew everybody else.. (One advice for the politicians.. if there are riots in India, schedule a Cricket match, as it is ‘The game’ that can unite this entire country…) Later we dozed off to sleep after an unsuccessful attempt to watch a movie, which we thought was inappropriate to be watched in a public place.. ;).. lol..

Next day with some interesting and entertaining conversations with a fellow passenger, who was ready to file lok sabha complaints on all the things possible, we watched some ‘appropriate’ movies and later boarded off at Indore station. We were received at the station by Ritu Aunty. Ritu aunty and Rajeev uncle were our hosts for the trip. Their house in MHOW was an hour drive from the station, and upon reaching there I realised that all the stories that kittu had told me about that place were amazingly true… One certainly falls in love with that lovely house and its people at the first glimpse.. (Oh i think I missed one detail.. aunty and uncle are Kittu’s childhood friend’s mom and dad…). So, after an introduction with everybody and a round of admiring that wonderfully built house amidst beautiful fields, we had a delectable and filling lunch and dozed off to sleep… ( these are two of the routines that occupied maximum time in the itinerary of our trip.. ) In the evening we went to attend a dinner party at Preet Uncle and Neelam aunty’s house (one of Rajeev Uncle’s friend).. A beautiful family and an equally wonderful house, where I got a chance to meet some more lovely people, and trust me, more than the place, it is the people living in MHOW that make you fall in love with that place yet again..

Next day was the most important day of the trip.. Early morning, we had breakfast and left with uncle and aunty to learn about the working of BioRe, the ways and methods they adopt to produce organic cotton, and how they contribute towards creating a better life for the society.. It was the start of an overwhelming day, on which we not only learnt about the working of the organisation, but also saw the true soul of India, its farmers putting their sweat and blood in producing the basic and the most important things, food and clothing, for those who live in the cities and who put so trivial values on them. After a wonderful drive past wonderful fields of wheat and cotton, when we got some valuable insights from uncle and aunty, we reached the Cotton Ginning unit of BioRe.. We were welcomed by ‘the most beautiful sight’ for a fashion student, a mounting heap of raw cotton that looks like a snow cloud with a little dust on it.. obviously me and kittu dint miss our chance to climb on that heap and take some pictures.. After that we were taken for a round inside the ginning unit, and Rajeev uncle showed and told us about the safety measures followed during the entire process.. After that, Ritu aunty showed us the Mobile health unit of BioRe that takes care of medical needs of the farmers in the nearby villages where proper medical advice and treatments are not easily accessible..

Following a trip to both of these facilities that where state-of-the-art, we drove to the training centre, where local farmers are trained on the ways and methods of producing Organic Cotton without the use of any pesticides and fertilizers. The spirit of work and restructuring the conventional methods that ran through the people there was so strong and contagious that one becomes bound to give a thought on how important it is to think.. to think about how you can do things better, to think about how you can help the people around, to think about how you can work to save the world from that clouding ghost of selfish interests and power. People there had two words running through their veins, and they were ‘organic and sustainability’, everything they did revolved around creating a better tomorrow or adding at least one spec of a second to earth’s life.. After some valuable lessons, refreshing lunch & sleep, and some shopping at Aavran (the handloom unit of BioRe foundation), we headed back home and visited the research centre en route.. (not to forget, kittu’s entertaining dance on all random songs on radio.. yes! she can dance in a car too). Upon reaching home, we freshened up and got ready for another dinner party at Zaal and Anaita’s house.. This beautiful Parsi family has a wonderful house that is more than 150 years old.. Not to say, but we enjoyed every bit of our time there and had amazing dinner (courtesy Anaita and Zaal’s aunt, Dinu), after which we bid adieu to everybody, as we were scheduled to take next day’s afternoon train to Delhi.. (but lemme tell you that our train tickets were still not confirmed..)

In the morning, we packed our bags and clicked some random pictures in that beautiful house (not to miss those unbelievable views of the fields around and a golf course in front).. we came downstairs for breakfast.. and upon checking the status of our train tickets, which felt like waiting for our board exam results, we got to know that we did not get the confirmation on our tickets, and kittu was inconsolably sad for being ‘one down’.. Well I am sorry that I cant tell you that story, else i will be publically killed by her.. lol… Anyways.. then we thought of taking resort to our newly invented interests.. eating and sleeping.. :)… , and after sleeping the entire day, we went for cycling, and the smartest thing that we did was to leave 20 minutes before twilight.. (I said the word ‘smartest’, as there are no street lights in that area and most of the vehicles that ply on that road are military and village trucks and buses..).. So by the time we rode till the end of the road, that was some 800 meters far, we were out of breath and low on day light… But still we had a speck of energy left to click pictures, after which we rode back in dark, with only way to alert other vehicles of our presence being the dim moonlight and our camera’s flash.. On returning back in one piece, we silently thanked god, as we both tried putting up very brave faces on the way back home.. and then we went on to freshen up and change for another dinner party.. well we were just lucky to land up at uncle and aunty’s place when they had a stream of parties to attend… So we went to Rupa and Harry’s house which again was a lovely place.. most of Rajeev uncle’s friends are former army personnel who have classic army living style and houses.. We enjoyed yet another delicious dinner with those amazing people and finally said bye to them before returning back home..

In the morning, we woke up to say bye to uncle and aunty who were leaving for the training centre, and then we had breakfast and packed our bags and went out to explore the fields around.. (we gave up our urge to doze off again and finally decided to be a little adventurous) .. We took some wonderful pictures around and then bid adieu to the place and its people and drove to Indore airport to take a fight back home… Well not to miss, that was my first flight ever, and kittu was more excited than i was.. but that is how she is… always high on life, and happy for others.. It was a great experience to get those unbelievable views of India from the height of 10,000 mt from a plane.., we landed in Delhi 1 and half hour later around 2 :30 pm..So here we were, back in Delhi, with more in hand than we ever thought to learn, with some unforgettable memories and wonderful lessons of life that we certainly are going to remember forever..

It is always great to share my experiences with you all. Take care and I hope to take you to some more interesting places and experiences in the magical land of India, where thousands of stories are waiting to be told..

With Love

Shivani Ahuja