DAY 3: Visit to Baseri
On day 3 we chose to travel further out – away from Dhaulpur to Sarmathura, an area that was probably the poorest in Dhaulpur, said a schoolmaster we had met the previous day. This is a “quarry town” and even as we travelled towards it, a number of stone cutting workshops lined the roads, interrupted only by yellow mustard fields. Stone cutting and agriculture were the two main occupations here – the former significantly more important it seems. The women in this area typically didn’t work, when they did it was for a short duration in the year on the fields (though we did see some women cutting stones by the roadside). The PMGSY has an impressive presence and the entire network of small good roads linking up villages in this area seemed to have been funded by it. We visited a couple of villages that were located off the road, accessible only by tractor, which took us across a riverbed. We visited Badegaon first, where there was a primary school but no Anganwadi. We then proceeded to Badapura.
A village of about 150 households, the Anganwadi here is located in the helper’s house. The AWW lives in the neighbouring town of Sarmathura (about 10 kms away). By all accounts, she used to come regularly, but of late has been preoccupied with a house she is getting built for herself in Sarmathura. Hence, doesn’t come these days. She is the wife of a “master” who teaches in a school there, and is a Pandit.
All the registers were with the AWW (she keeps them as a rule), but the rooms that the AWH (her name is Kailashi, she is a Patwa) had set aside as the centre had the basic equipment and material to run the Centre. Kailashi’s house was incredibly clean and pleasant, overlooking a rivulet. She gets no rent however (a person who was present there said “kha jata hai” implying somebody takes away the rent due to them, but was promptly hushed up by the others).
Murmure is served here as a routine starting at 1-1:30 pm. At the appointed time, everybody descends on the AWH’s house; she takes the murmura, perches herself on a stone parapet outside her home and distributes a handful to everyone present. She turns away no one, and adjusts quantities to ensure that. On that particular day, there were also some very old women lined up to take murmura, adolescent boys and several from the school nearby (with ghugri packets they had collected at school). The AWH told us that on account of the cold fewer people turned up than otherwise. Often, the AWH said, the distribution would continue for hours and finish up only by 4 pm. It seemed to us that the children enjoyed this routine immensely and ran here and there singing and dancing, having riotous fun. The children themselves seemed to point out others among them who slyly queued up for a second helping. The self-monitoring ensured nobody got more than the share “due” to them. The AWH was not familiar with Baby mix or any other sort of special food – lamenting only that the quantity of murmure was not enough to feed all who asked.