After a day with the Seva Mandir team and members of the local community looking at water conservation and irrigation challenges, we have some free time before the team meets around a campfire to sing songs and tell stories. This takes place in Hindi but we get the drift and are then asked to sing or tell a story. After some deliberation, we sing ‘Kumbaya’ and then a few verses of ‘If you ever go to heaven’ – much to the amusement of the rest of the team. After an excellent dinner, we head to bed.
During the night we hear the rain. It has eased by the time we arise in the morning but everywhere is definitely damp!
As the Seva Mandir team congregates in the conference room to review progress on various initiatives and projects over the last month,
we take the opportunity to walk the mile or so into the centre of Kotra town, passing small shops and stalls, and the local prison.
The centre of town is a crossroads and the hub of activity but, after the rain, it is a grey day.
The sight of one man cleaning his shoe was slightly comical: two steps later and the shoe would be back to its original condition.
Nevertheless, the local shopkeepers and stallholders were plying their trade
and children going to school.
There is a small hospital in Kotra which attracts patients from the surrounding areas. Its juxtaposition to the Post Mortem Room did not immediately instill confidence – on the other hand, where more logical for it to be?
The road back to the block office reveals insights into pre-Independence with archetypal bungalows and gates recalling a different period.
But it starts to rain once more and we are invited to take shelter in what turns out to be the office of the electricity sub-station.
Our young hosts speak reasonable English
and one disappears to bring us tea in a plastic bag which is then poured into small plastic cups which our hosts throw into the forecourt after use.
While we are there, there is a loud bang and a flash from the sub-station next door. A major fuse has blown and the technician turns his hand to some repairs before beaming a smile at us.
We take our leave and head back, encountering more colourful locals and catching glimpses into the past
but most grateful for the invitation and chat in the dry.
After lunch at the block office (the team meeting concluded), we set off back to Udaipur. The sky was still full of foreboding and the light unattractive but we were still able to catch glimpses of the local scenery which we are growing to love.