This post must begin with an apology since this was meant to be posted yesterday. We couldn’t. Because we were dog tired, sorry, dead tired (lest we offend animal lovers and PETA activisits for invoking the name of dog in vain) – after scouring Gujarat’s countryside on our field trips.
I accompanied Fred Guanais and Roberta Kacowicz from Brazil, Kevin Bacon from UK and Ruth Gee, our regional director in India and Sri Lanka to visit Rajendranagar and Munsiwada on field trip themed on access to healthcare. We were accompanied by Mahesh bhai from SRISTI and Priti Vashnavi from IIMA.
Sahayog Trust in Rajendranagar is at the forefront of leprosy patient rehabilitation in India, led by Suresh Soni.
We then made our way to Munsiwada village, deep into the tribal heartland in Sabarkantha district, to meet Ramaji Vaid, who uses traditional herbs to heal all those who come to him from far near, man or beast.
We left the high-speed fourlane highway for two lane state highway, which soon shrunk to thin ribbon of metalled road and eventually there was none. The last 2 kms to Ramaji Vaid is dirt track, and our convoy of Innovas bumped, rolled, groaned and finally, literally, scraped through to reach Ramaji’s village.
Ramaji welcomed us into his home, where his patients throng the long, colourful, verandah skirting his thatched mudhouse.
Ramaji patiently answers our questions, tells us how he picked up the knowledge of herbs from his father and careful observation of life around him. He tells us that his healing is not limited to human beings and domesticated animals but he has also found out herbal pesticides that are far less harmful than chemical ones but as effective.
Ramaji’s ‘laboratory’ is basic: chopper, knife, mortar and pestle, an electric grinder (all of Gujarat’s 18,000 villages have power practically 24×7, something even no metro city in India can boast of), open flame oven.
On our way back from Munsiwada, we take a wrong turn and loose our way in rural hinterland. But eventually we make it back to the highway and make sharp dash for Ahmedabad. The next event, the ‘Question Time’ with IIM-A students on Social Justice and Inclusive Growth’ is on from 9 pm (legend has it that IIM students sleep less than 4 hours a day on average during their gruelling 2 year course, preparing them for lifestyle to justify their 6 figure monthly salaries in the days ahead).