Post 50, Chandak, Poonch

4:00 p.m.: Pradeep has been working non-stop for the last two days. He went to sleep earlier this morning and has just woken up. His co-villagers are preparing chicken curry for their dinner, while Mansur and his neighbours from Forbesgunj are cooking stir fried beef. For this reason, Pradeep asks me to avoid eating dinner with Mansur. When I tell him I have no problem eating beef, Pradeep looks surprised.

Pradeep tells me that Sundar has reached home. Mansur had asked him to persuade Sundar to come to Jammu instead but Sundar had declined, indicating that he had no money left. He says they plan to spend a couple of months in Sargana, participate in the Dina Bhadri festivities, and then perhaps travel to Jammu.

7:00 p.m.: The stir beef fry is ready. Mansur wishes that Pradeep would join him too.

“He does eat beef. But perhaps he wants to avoid eating it in the presence of the youngsters from his village. They will make a big deal of him consuming beef. He obviously wants to avoid gaining all that attention.”

Post 14, Sargana

Zaheeb Ajmal briefs:

11:45 a.m.: I am at Pradeep’s house. We are standing in his courtyard, where Pradeep has detected a fault with his handpump, and has called a plumber. Shailendra joins us, a green loin cloth wrapped around his waist, and bare chested. I ask him about his work in Ludhiana and how it compares with opportunities here in Sargana.

“There’s not much difference in wage rates between Ludhiana and here. I earn INR 350 there, and INR 300 here. The main difference is that I get paid on a daily basis here and on a monthly basis there. When a person is paid a lumpsum amount, they are able to save more than they would if paid daily,” he says.

Pradeep nods in agreement.

I ask Shailendra whether he will work while he is here.

“The boy has come home. Let him rest,” Pradeep’s wife Shanti laughs.

Pradeep adds: “The paddy saplings have been transplanted. There isn’t much he can do. He will rest.”