Tuesday, June 8, 2010

India....a lesson in efficiency part two

I often found myself grumbling about Indian-made tools. Especially when doing a project such as the one described in the following photos. Our mission was to clear a field of grass, make the ground level and then spread it with cow manure that would dry smooth into a threshing floor for millet. It was tedious work especially when using muntis (short handled shovel like tools).

I thought the tools were primitive (merely a stripped branch thrust through a hole in the iron made tool portion) and poorly crafted since they break often. The wood handle splits or becomes worn from use and slides out of the hole. We were told multiple times to 'be careful' with the tool so that it wouldn't break. I longed for the 'better' American made tools. I wondered why the Indians put up with such crappy tools.

I later realized, however, that these tools were only 'crappy' to me. I was not used to working with them like the Indians were. My boyfriend who traveled with me, was always hatching plans to make a new tool (more like an American one that we were used to) or finding some way to 'improve' the Indian tool. I decided that there was no point in introducing a new or 'better' tool because the Indians were perfectly fine using what they already had. They worked with the same tools we did, but at a much faster pace. We were slow because we were not accustomed to their tools. If we had provided new tools I was positive that they would not use them, or would take up their old practices as soon as we left the farm. Our tools may have been just as tedious for them to use as theirs were for us.

"Each nation has many customs and practices which are not only unknown to another nation but barbarous and a cause of wonder"

The majority of tools have short handles such as these muntis causing the user to always be bent towards the ground.

The first attempt to flatten and smooth the ground using a section cut from a coconut tree. This was not the fastest process since the branch is not very wide and the floor to be was quite large in comparison.

Attempt number two to flatten and smooth the floor. This time using animal labor. Unfortunately, even with Babuna being dragged behind, there was not enough weight to smooth the ground to it's desired finish. The decision was made to get a tractor for the job instead.

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