When I was little, I would spend a lot of time with my mother and visited my grandmother whenever I got a chance. Over the years, I learned many things from them. From learning to brush my teeth on my own to chasing my dreams, they have been my constant source of motivation. Often when we would sit and talk, our conversations would make me learn how different our lives had been growing up and continued to be so. Besides passing on their most beloved sarees, recipes, and experiences in life, they would often share their regrets and would encourage me to pursue my ways of being. This encouragement has increased with each passing generation of women in my family, yet it remains something passed on more than something imbibed by oneself. Growing up, I found out about my mother's hidden self-sacrifices and understood that she never disclosed half of the stuff she experienced throughout everyday life. The older I grew, the more I began to notice.
My grandmother spent her youth in Chamali, her village in Uttarakhand's mountains before she moved to the city, and my mother moved to the city when she was six years old but continued to spend all her vacations in Chamali till she got married. I was born and raised in Delhi. Chamali has been an integral part of my mother's and grandmother's life and memory. However, the connection to Chamali became weaker by the year, and with every passing generation, so did the amount of time we spent talking and listening to each other as we got busy within our own lives.
As we progress into the modern world, cities continue to grow. They offer limitless possibilities, and everything we want is available to us at our fingertips. From a very young age, chasing academic merit is taught to us, and the multiple levels of privileges we are born into remain under a veil of ignorance. We not only take the access to food, water, electricity, love, and care for granted; we are made to believe we have earned it.
My grandmother has been an important bridge for me between two very distinct lifestyles; a village and that of a city. After years of living in the city, she decided to move back to Chamali and began growing her food. I had multiple opportunities to live with her and experience her ways of life. She would always tell me stories about the hardships and the beauty of living in the mountains, and through them, I could enter a world I had minimal experience of. Chamali is a village of the old with only a few who have managed to keep the place afloat amidst the emergence of large scale migration and abandonment of villages in Uttarakhand. These visits enabled me to see many things in a different light and have deeply impacted my life.
I would often think about the contrast between the lives of my grandmother, me, and my mother, not only because of the fact that we were born in different eras but also because all of us have consumed the world in our own ways that were rooted in our experiences of a plethora of external and internal forces. We continue to learn from each other as women from different generations.
Through this project, I have tried to expand my understanding of various perspectives and reflect upon a few things. The project draws inspiration from my visits to Chamali and, in particular, the recent one where I got to spend time with both my mother and grandmother after three years.
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