One day, we ran into Keshav bhaiya( the co-operative’s president) during our customary evening chai. He advised us to look up Tinder (a village, not the app) and let Pekhri be a long term project for the organization.The pros that he listed for the village were enough to peak our interests in it. He knew of our disappointment in Pekhri and told us about the politics in the village aswell.
So, with two new interns in town, we went to Tinder. These two are here for a project based on alternative and sustainable energy sources and wanted to start a survey for the same. The two film makers were to follow soon. The way to Tinder was comparatively easier even though Tinder can not be reached by anything with wheels. This village too, was very pretty. (All villages of the region are.)
Once there, we found that nobody knew much about Himalayan Ecotourism, neither did they have any sort of women group in place. We could tell them about Himalayan Ecotourism that was not a big problem. The absence of a women group was a boon. We saw it as a blank canvas and immediately felt like painting a very pretty picture on it. A picture of empowered and independent women, of a sustainable society.
We got a good response from the villagers. The women seemed willing to work and were geared up. They asked interesting questions and gave in good inputs. A few women even went back and tried to convince their friends who couldn’t make it to the meeting.
While waiting for my fellow interns to complete their research, I got to interact with Vandana. She is the youngest member of the group-to be. She has just completed her schooling and wants to continue her studies in the ‘field of environment ‘. The conversation with her was like a breath of fresh air.
After lunch, we decided to leave for Gushaini. We decided to relax a bit and enjoy the views on the way. We knew there would be less activity for the coming few days as there was a mela going on in Banjar and all the villagers (and the Gods in the villages’ temple) were going to attend it.
Little did we know of the excitement that was to come our way in the next days.