By Blake Berry
The thousands of trees and butterflies that cover the vast mountains, the waterfall, the enormous rocks that have fallen from landslides, the valley between the mountains with the beautiful rolling river, the fast moving clouds that cover the valley in the morning, the terraces scattered about the mountainsides – all these are factors that make this small seemingly simple village on the end of the earth intriguing to anyone who visits. But, while these beautiful sights of Agora definitely add to the experience, I honestly think it’s the natural way of living that attracts and fascinates me the most.
Here, the locals use all the resources in the valley to help them in their everyday lives; from using rocks to grind seeds and make oils for food, to using the branches from a tree to help build the house their going to live in. A few days ago, Mr. Pausic stated “Agora really is a Middlesex boy’s utopia” and I just laughed it off and didn’t pay much attention to the idea. But, now, after experiencing only a few days of Agora for myself, I truly find it to be true. (So, Owen, I’m not sure if you’re reading this, but maybe we’ll end up moving to Agora instead of Pancheshwar in the future!)
The quote from Papa Pausie really resonated with me when we took a few hours out of one of our days in Agora to help one of the kind locals here in the village. We went to his land and he showed us how to break up the rocks in the group where he was considering building a new home. We stayed with him for a few hours helping him and it felt so great to give back to this amazing place. We have taken so many resources over the past few days that it felt great to give a little back.
Another thing that stood out to me was the fact that not a single person just sits and types on a computer for their everyday job. They’re always working with their bodies outside, which really shows their connection to this place. Always working and being outdoors leads the locals to knowing and noticing more about their environment than we do. It doesn’t matter which job you have here – blacksmith, carpenter, the headman of the village – everyone knows what is safe to eat, safe to touch, male or female, which plants help their gardens produce more, etc. At home, normally only the people whose jobs require this knowledge know this vital knowledge. In the US, we’ll sit at a desk all day looking at a computer screen, only stopping to eat. if you really think about what a terrible lifestyle that is, it might really bother you, as it does me. After visiting Agora, I definitely know that’s not what I would like to do with the rest of my life. If you allow yourself to think about it, I sure most of you will agree.
This obvious connection that these people have to their homes, food, land, and place, that most Americans so clearly lack has an effect on their physical state and also their mental state or “soul.” Seeing how happy this “natural” way of living makes them truly makes me want to live more and more like they do. And just to be clear, when I say “natural” I do not mean primitive by any means, but more a civilized and resourceful way of living.
Being here in Agora, it really is easy to see and compare their way of living to ours back home. It’s easy to see the strength the people have, their love and open arms to strangers and foreigners, and the visible overall happiness. These are only a few of the reason this amazing, beautiful, small place in the world, so far from what should be familiar to me, really deserves the title of “A Middlesex Boy’s Utopia.”