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In The Village: Wilbur Goes Home

If a guy wearing pajama pants and a necktie and sunglasses rang your doorbell and asked to make a video of your home, you'd probably slam the door so fast you'd shatter his lenses.

That's not what happened when Wilbur Sargunaraj went calling on various homeowners in his father's home village in the Tirunelveli district in southern India.

"The hospitality of the village is most unbelievable," says Sargunaraj, who visits a variety of homes in his fourth video for NPR. "We didn't know the people — it's not like they were my relatives. We just knocked on their door and said we'd like to come in."

They definitely said, "Come in!"

And even if the home was small and simple, he says, the dwellers "were really content."

At the same time, the 37-year-old videographer saw signs of change from the village he visited when he was a boy. It now has laptops, cars, "gigantic mansions," as he calls them. Once houses start getting bigger and bigger and bigger, he fears that "innocence is lost." Instead of being satisfied with a thatched roof, he says, a family might look at a neighbor's tile roof and think, "My thatched roof is terrible."

As you watch the video, you may notice that no one seems to be home in the gigantic, echoing mansion. The owner did not want to be on camera. Sargunaraj is not sure why these people passed on the chance to appear in a Wilbur video. But in the simple houses with thatched roofs, the people said, " 'This is where we live, we're having tea, snacks, come on and join us!' "

Want more Wilbur Sargunaraj videos? Check out the other three videos he made for NPR. There's an introduction to village life, a guide to food in a southern Indian village (with recipes) and a look at working in the village.

They are all very, very first class!

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Marc Silver
Marc Silver, who edits NPR's global health blog, has been a reporter and editor for the Baltimore Jewish Times, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic. He is the author of Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) During Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond and co-author, with his daughter, Maya Silver, of My Parent Has Cancer and It Really Sucks: Real-Life Advice From Real-Life Teens. The NPR story he co-wrote with Rebecca Davis and Viola Kosome -- 'No Sex For Fish' — won a Sigma Delta Chi award for online reporting from the Society of Professional Journalists.