Tuesday, 28 October 2008

scheherezade smiled enigmatically and continued

the colour schemes in India are seductive. no prizes for guessing who likes green and shades thereof..

one evening we were all invited to partake of nourishment in one of the village houses. and before you all start muttering about the quality of the image...YOU try taking a photograph when there are 31 people milling about in a room about 8 by 10 feet. i don't like having my retinas burned out and assume my fellows prefer to maintain their vision as well; so the flash on my camera is permanently turned off.

but back to the story. we all assembled at the home of one of our hostesses (forgive my lamentable memory, their names have escaped me - this is why all my former students are addressed variously as Blossom, Petal, Beloved and Sweetness) about an hour late for dinner.

we were late because of India time. those of you who have been there will know this means that the transport either didn't arrive at all, was late arriving or arrived early and then hid in a bush until we went searching for it. in our case it was the latter.

after the greeting and handing over of various offerings we were invited to sit. this is fine for those of us who do yoga or ride horses but i swear i heard sotto voce mutterings about the probable need for a crane in order to regain vertical positions later. but i'm not saying who (which would be Blossom, Petal, Beloved or Sweetness anyway so you'd be none the wiser)

our hostesses did the rounds with a jug of water and bowl, followed by a cloth for the ritual washing of hands (a custom it would do no harm to introduce over here!) and then the onslaught of food began. i use the word advisedly.

coconut dosas were served (delicious) accompanied by a hot sweet spiced milk. i skipped the milk, being a farmer means i have too much information about the sorts of diseases local dairy cattle are likely to carry. Listeria and Ovine Brucellosis are only two of the potential suspects.

then came dahl, all manner of vegetables doused in chili and spices, enormous scoops of rice (both plain and spiced), more dosas, pappadums, salads (skipped by old Missus Unadventurous again) and finally an enormous plate of boiled eggs. i was well defeated long before they did the rounds. our hosts didn't eat with us, simply stood and watched us munching their lovely food. 

goodness knows how they rustled up so many plates (suspect the whole street lent theirs for the evening). neighbours and friends kept popping in to inspect the visitors cackhandedly scooping well-sauced rice grains into their mouths. better than television.

eventually we all staggered out to the bus, shaking hands (like the Queen) with a guard of honour along the way. even the village idiot (sounds cruel but is simply the truth) stood by the bus with a benevolent air dispensing farewells.

a night to remember.

i found this denizen of the forest (who too closely resembles a former Australian Prime Minister) in my happysnaps, reminding me of another incident of consumption which happened some nights later. i didn't actually see the event but am assured that a monkey nicked a bottle of coca cola from an outdoor eating area, shimmied up the nearest tree, ripped the top off the bottle and downed the contents before hurling the emptied vessel to the ground. wonder where he learned that behaviour?


  1. Wow, its all so vivid, its just like being there....

    Thanks for sharing this experience

    Have seen that green somewhere before too, maybe in my dye pot. lol.

  2. Hi India, glad you arrived home safely. I'm enjoying your Indian tales. I read you may be coming to Europe next year? I'll be with you, thats for sure.

  3. India, you see, it will be a big hit to come to the netherlands,Martine is the fist !and many of my blogreaders are in to it and I know as former president of the dutch felt group so many people who admire your work. I'll try to organise it with Inge Evers, you know her, and you like her? Otherwise I'll organise it myself. Well it feels a little bit strange, your blogging of a beautiful and hopegiving journey to India and now we write about fully other things. Is this project a succes? will there be a market for the makings of the indian people. You write very vividly, and you must have been very tired afterwards ...so many people...

  4. it's early days for the project but given the fantastic enthusiasm and commitment of the Bird and the Elephant through their company (see www.beautifulsilks.com) i think it should work. there are plans afoot for sustainable housing for women who have been living rough, and Vikasana is also taking care of orphaned children (finding them living in places like the railway station)

    as to visiting the Netherlands...it will be wonderful. I have one or two former students there also to catch up with!

  5. India, your experiences engender in me a deep desire to visit the sub-continent for myself. Such a pity my health will no longer tolerate such treats as Air India.

  6. Really wonderful photography here...love the greens, and are they red finger markings I see on the old doors?...Just beautiful!
    I wish I was number 32 sitting in that room eating an Indian feast! Big smiles are a joy to see.