The Great Rann of Kutch, a dehydrated, monochrome and unwelcoming desert landscape spread over 7,500 square kilometers in Gujrat, India, ironically always had a very calling effect on my travel feet. At a younger age, images of Kutch made me wonder, if at all anyone could go there… because I could not see any route in or out of those hostile images…. All I could see was infinite cuts and cracks in a piece of earth.
Several years later in 2012, on my honeymoon road trip across 5 states and over 3000 kilometers in India, I and my husband chose a very “un” honeymoon like stop over – The Little Rann of Kutch. Well, by then I had figured out that there is indeed a route to go into the barren lap of Kutch! Though google maps would still fail there : )
We stayed at Rann Riders, literally in the heart of Little Kutch and just few kilometers away from the international boundary of Pakistan on the north. As we set in motion towards Kutch, I remember my eagerness that swelled further with the endlessness and unknowingness of this drive into the heart of Little Kutch, only attempting to find an end… Well we did not find an end, but somewhere on the straight run of wheels I saw a small man like thing moving in a checkered patch of land. We drove closer to cognize that the man was making salt.
The Little Rann of Kutch is a seasonal salt marsh contributing about 60 per cent of the salt in the country. I had read about the Agariyas tribes in the Kutch region, living through rough conditions and political maneuvers, trying to make a living from the salt manufacturing 6 months every year, but seeing it in reality was far hard hitting than I would have imagined. The living picture of a man 5 feet tall, blackened by heat, stirring the salt field with a mixer taller than him, all alone, half his life!
As we stepped out of the jeep, my expressions were mute, but I saw a gleaming smile on this man’s face on a very unsmiling landscape, and a little girl shyly running towards me. In that appalling moment it was endearing to see that this man lived there with his wife and daughter.
Playing with his daughter I was trying to fathom where they get food and water from. His wife told me someone from their employer drops supplies two to three times a month.
With the very little this man had in his modest shelter, I was stirred when he asked if we would like to have something…. Or maybe what he had was too less only from where I was seeing, but enough for the man for whom life is made of 2 smiling faces, 1 pair of salt soaked clothes and boots, food and water if at all the supplies last and a pinch of salt in everything.
Back then I did not have a great camera to capture the haunting and crooked features of Kutch but as we bid good-bye to Kutch I did capture an impactful image of this man’s life, in me. On our drive back, me and my husband who were so upbeat this morning, dropped a beat somewhere in those cracks. We did not speak much, but I knew what we both were thinking, or should I say feeling…
Often we whine over a plate full of problems and ambitions in life, we also learn to scrub them out in our ways and shine it back, but wouldn’t it better if we didn’t place any problems on the plate at all.
If I learnt right, then I learnt from the life of a little man in The Little Rann of Kuch, you have as less as you weigh in life. You must want more, but without counting what you have, as less. You can cook a great meal even when your ingredients are less or imperfect. The problems in life aren’t really problems, they just complete the taste of life, with a little pinch of salt!!!