Agriculture or ‘Paan ka Dukaan’

Ten principles of rural ethnography

Bharatbhai is 30 years old. And single. He owns about 3–4 acres of land in the cotton and groundnut-rich belt near Rajkot. For someone who is well built, in rude health, willing to work hard to earn his bread, and owning a decent-sized tract of land, Bharatbhai should have been the most eligible bachelor in his village. Far from it. Bharatbhai typifies maybe many young eligible farmers who remain unmarried for reasons they have little control over.

Somewhere else in a village on a highway that connects Rajkot to the state capital, there is a legend about a farmer with 5 sons who thinks of a novel idea to get his children married. He opens a paan shop (betel leaves that are chewed with areca nut/other accompaniments and serve as a mild intoxicant) in Rajkot, gets his eldest son to run it. During this period, he manages to get the son married and then sends him back to the village to farm. And then he gets the second son to take over the shop. Once the second son finds someone to get married to, he is sent back into farming. Then the third takes over, by which time, a local newspaper published the story. The remaining two sons most likely are still searching for their life partners. This story usually evokes amusement as people see the novelty in the effort of the father.

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