Korai, a hamlet nestled in Agra-Fatehpur Sikri highway is inhabited by the Kalandhar tribe. This small, little village has an intriguing history that traces back to a few decades. It traces back to the time, when people were young, wild, free, when people were living in the moment and most importantly a time when there was a level of satisfaction and fulfilment in their hearts. This was a time when they possessed bears and their days comprised of eventful evenings of showing various bear dances to visitors. These dances were their only source of income and happiness as they not only had a sense of belonging with the bears but also shared a special kind of relationship with them which could not be taken away.
Of late, however, after having being branded as endangered species, Himalayan black bears and sloth bears were taken by the government to mark an end to the dark era of animal cruelty.
The government, however, has not compensated them in any way and hence this instance has made a significant impact in their lives. They have been struggling for their survival as they are devoid of any livelihood. They have become helpless and depressed and not only lost hope in the government but also in every other person who comes their way. This pessimistic view about life has undoubtedly created an aura of cynicism and relinquishment.
However, of the twelve families who are surviving in poverty, there are a few who are more optimistic and see a ray of hope, of change, of development. These families are currently, making a living by doing odd jobs and a few showing monkey dances. One of the family members, Mohammad, a magician, somehow manages to pull his family through daily road shows. If he’s lucky to catch public eye, he earns up to $3.5 a day. When there are tougher times, the skilled artist returns home empty handed. Ilyas Khan, 20, a star among the rest, is the only villager who passed out from college. Indubitably, therefore, they are a skilful lot who can rise up in stature, if they have a helping hand, a supporting system.
Manya and Kavya Kalia, two sisters from Delhi, happened to read about their situation. Moved by the plight of the distressed villagers and their enthusiasm in the face of challenges, they decided to do something about it. Collaborating with the villagers, they made a plan on how they could convert their simple village into a tourist attraction and earn a honest living. Once they had the support of the villagers, they roped in their father, who owns a well known travel firm in Delhi, that specializes in inbound tourism.
After several visits and meetings with the villagers Korai, has now become a happy village which looks forward to sharing its life and story with the foreigners who come and visit them regularly. The money collected is used to buy daily provisions, food, rations and even stationary for the kids. This is then distributed equally amongst the families.
This magic wand seemed to have charmed the guests and positive testimonials about Korai have ushered in a hope of development and rehabilitation. Come and experience the “real India”