Exploring the surroundings of Telangana
During our stay in Hyderabad, we went on day-trips to Yelgoi Village, Pastapur Village, Akuthotapally, Majeedpur, Nareguda to look for oral literature. We went to the province of Telangana to collect stories in a very free-form and curiosity driven manner. We simply asked people for different forms of literature, quest which transformed continuously throughout our search. For every individual or group we have interacted with, literature meant something else. Often literature did not mean anything. But for most of them — Songs, life stories, tales of migration, of labor, resources, agriculture or different accounts on a desire or observation of active changes in society.
We started our journey paying a visit to the Sangham radio maker General Narsamma who shared with us songs and recordings of the regular program of the Radio. Sangham Radio is a unique community radio run by Dalit women. Originating from self- help groups and gathered under the umbrella of the Deccan Development Society (DDS) NGO, this radio is one of the activities women of the region are preoccupied with. Between 1998–2008 Sangham Community Radio waited to get a licence, but still produced audio material. From 2008 to now, the the first all-women community radio in Asia is broadcasting in the villages around between 7 and 9pm every day songs, dialogues, gossips on their concerns which cover from biodiversity, seed sovereignty, organic farming, to traditional culture.
Throughout the three days of the radio we played their songs. People stopped curious to know how come us as two visitors from Europe, have access and interest in such music. We did experiments asking people to reproduce what they hear in the beautiful songs from one of the 200 villages the General and her colleagues are gathering music from Machnoor Village.
During our visit in the Deccan Development Society (DDS), the General introduced us to a group of storytellers whose travel around telling stories for money or good. They performed a story without instruments, which was a total exception for them.
Group story-tellers in Pastapur Village
Everyone told us: you are so lucky to catch the harvesting season. We witnessed the caravans with the local seeds, the drummers and the fancy garments of people and bulls. Nada and Senanda were there in front of one of the places where villagers would dine together. In sync, they shared with us a beautiful song about cotton.
Nada and Senanda in Yelgoi Village
Apart from being played during the live radio situation, the recordings accompanied by a portrait, were audible at the Hyderabad Literary Festival together with the works done by the students during the workshop in the university.
Rufus Gurugulla together with many members of the community, welcomed us in the Akuthotapally where we have spent the evening, talking singing and dancing, strolling through a village like we have never seen before. The hospitality and joy of the people we met in Akuthotapally was represented in the festival by two musical instances from a group of young girls who wanted to share together a song they learned in a summer camp, and the Ramachandra who has music embedded in her body.
Chalanti, Manasa, Ishita, Manisha Shilpa Jessica in Akuthotapally
Ramachandra in Akuthotapally
Apart from being a pastor, Rufus Gurugulla is a visual artist working with different seeds and photography. We shortly visited his gallery in Hyderabad where we talked about community and browsed through one of his photo books from different villages in Telangana.
Rufus Gurugulla in Hyderabad
With Vaishalee and Chandu in Nareguda
On one of our remarkable trips, we met Venkata Narayana. He lives in Nareguda Village and worked all his life as a tailor. We got surrounded with the curious young men of the village while Venkata Narayana was leading us to his home where he told one of those hard to hear labour stories that later Vaishalee and Parveda Chandu translated for us.
Venkata Narayana in Nareguda Village
Near the bus station which carries workers and pupils from one village to the other, Sathya Narayana shared a mutton recipe straight from the counter to his shop. Later we find out people travel sometimes to Nareguda especially for his products.
Sathya Narayana in Nareguda Village
We went back to the festival with these voices and thought about how difficult it was (with translation) to ask people for their literature accounts. What else is literature we permanently asked in the three days of radio. Probably the limits to literature are the limits to life itself.
Special thanks: HLF 2020 Organisation team and directors, Dr. Janardhan Rao Cheeli, Vaishalee Das and Parveda Chandra Kiran, Rufus Gurugulla, Ms. Usha.