India is a Country of Villages
In spite of big towns like Calcutta, Bombay, Madras, Delhi, and others, by far the larger part of the people of India still live in villages and work as farmers on the land. Indeed, India is a country of villages, and most Indians are villagers.
Villages differ in different parts of India; the people of India being of different races and different religions, live in very different climates. But the village life in some ways is much the same all over.
Sometimes villages are enclosed in a mud wall. The houses are really mud or wooden huts, with flat mud roofs. They are not built or placed on any plan, and the village streets that divide them are narrow, winding lanes, generally crowded with goats and dogs and playing children. The houses are built close together and are often joined to each other. Round the villages old trees grow, which give shade and make the air cooler; and if they are fruit trees, like mangoes, they give the villagers fruit. The country all around comprises the fields farmed by the villagers.
The villagers are nearly all farmers. Each farmer owns the land he tills, and one of the eldest of them is the Patel, or head-man, of the village. Besides the farmers, there is sure to be a bania, who keeps a village shop and lends money (at very high interest). And there will be a village mistri, who mends ploughs and carts and does a bit of building. He is often paid for food. There may also be a cobbler, who makes and mends shoes. In old days there was also a village weaver, but nowadays the villagers buy their cloth mostly from the towns.
As a rule, the women are not in purdah, but do a good deal of work in the fields with their husbands. Their great meeting place is the village well, where they go daily to draw water and gossip. The men sit together in the evening after their work is done and smoke the hookah and chat under the village tree. So the villagers live their simple quiet life, far from towns, much as their forefathers did many hundreds of years ago.