Friday, December 19, 2014

Snow at home

We were all worrying about drought this winter. The middle of December and not a drop of rain. The oats were looking sad, and the roses were wilting despite my best efforts. And then one evening, clouds gathered. Saturday morning, we woke to heavy snowfall. That was a cold, cold day and Mian and I sat huddled in front of the bukhari.
Sunday, we woke to Paradise.
View across the valley

Lemon leaves and snow
Pine forest

Fruit orchard and pond

My 'office'. Now too cold to work in

Our lemon tree and neighbours

Front yard

More front yard. there are roses under there somewhere!

More landscape


We might not have had electricity. But we had our bukhari, and each other, and it was paradise..

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The garden in winter

We had our first frost yesterday. It's still light, just enough to make the parsley pretty but not enough to kill it.
but the frost covers went up over the lavender. A deep mulch and a hut should keep off the worst of the frost. I hope.
Yesterday G and I noticed that our  rye is being chomped. And today I caught the culprits- two flocks of maybe 20 birds. The chap who looks like he's wearing a bandit mask is the White-crested Laughing Thrush, his partner is the White-throated Laughing Thrush. Thieves, both. 
When it's this cold, we are glad for anything that looks warm. Like the persimmon tree.
And this is the time to bottle sunshine for late winter.
Jars of lemon marmalade. Lemons from our tree, the recipes here and here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

In which Madhu and Chicu try to be smooth.

It began when the normally laughing-faced Madhu bounded up with something hidden in her mouth and lay down with her back to me. She covered her mouth with her paws and silently played with whatever was in her mouth. It was clearly A Very Big Secret.

'Whatcha got there, little one?' I asked from my chair.'What did you find?'

'Oh look!' She turned around with her usual laughing mouth and showed me the disreputable bone she'd found.So much for Keeping A Secret.

Turns out, I know where she got that from. A little after the bone incident, this happened.

I melted our food processor bowl.

Don't ask how, these things happen regrettably too often in my life. Mian must be told, but I would be smooth about it, I decided. And so I sent him a chatty text message about how much we love each other, above all material things. I got a reply in a few seconds. 'I love you too, what broke?'

Smooth, Chicu. Very smooth.

Madhu and I are lucky we have such forgiving families. She got to keep her bone, and I am getting a new processor bowl.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Back home!

It takes a certain level of idiocy to begin a photo-laden post the very day I get back to the land of slow internet. But I am so excited to be home!
The pup and I are back together. She has filled out now with a dome-shaped head and shaggy neck and fluffy tail. No longer will I be able to call her 'Bandar Poonch'.

These flowers are the last to die out in the winter. I have been plotting to have their fiery beauty in my garden for a while. And now, they are here.

This does not look like much, I admit. But this rose bears ittar-scented flowers the colour of dried blood. In a few years, this  will be a seductive blanket over our dying apricot tree.

This mustard plant self-seeded into the compost bed I was preparing for my Edward rose. And now just two giant leaves give me dinner

 The cobea is taking over the house! and I could not be happier.


Why would I not be happy with so much beauty?

A field of radishes. I don't see us running out any time soon

 I have wanted this sight in my garden since we first moved in. And now it is here.The salvia is not only a visual and tactile treat,but attracts bees all day long. Am so happy.

Glorious, glorious winter peas. What more can I say?


Ripening lemons and deep blue sky. Two of my favourite things in winter.

Call it a flower tunnel, call it a pollen gauntlet. I have wanted to see this since we moved in.

And just to remind me that I have not died and gone to heaven..the reality check. Rats!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stolen Day


This is something we have had on our walls for a while:
 
And last month, we did!

I needed to visit Lucknow, and discovered that I was there in that impossibly romantic city for one entire Sunday.
I texted Mian, 'Can I suggest a mad thing?' And he said yes, yes.

So Mian and I found ourselves sharing a berth (RAC, we were) in a non air-conditioned train and as giddily happy about it as a runaway couple. And in a sense, we were. We were both playing truant from work and had unanimously agreed on a no-computer day.
Aminabad, where we spent much of our time
And it was perfect. The hotel reception accused us of being an 'illicit  couple' which normally would have made me angry, but this time just added to the delicious 'runawayedness' of it  all.
Colour  and sparkles- matched our mood perfectly
After that, all that day there was cuddling and exploring the city, and shopping and eating and lots and lots of laughing. What a wonderful day.

Mian had a tough journey both ways. In the first, he stayed sitting up so I could lie down and sleep, and was stranded on the railway station for hours because his train was late. But he gave the best possible gift to his  wife.
Not us, but us all the same

Thank you, Mian.

* all photos by Mian. Thank you again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Varanasi and points of view

 Varanasi. That's where Mian and I are now, and on the left is the view  from our balcony. See the splash of blue on the horizon? not the sky, the bit below that. That's the Ganga.

I should feel lucky to be here now. It is after all an old, old city on the banks of the Ganga. And even though I am not religious, atleast my traveling pulse should quicken at the thought of exploring this place. But it doesn't.

On the contrary, despite spending a decent amount of time here over the last two years, I still do not feel comfortable on my own here. I don't  go out onto the ghats, don't eat street food, and infact, rarely go out. 'Does anyone say anything?' asks Mian often. 'Did you see something?'

No. It is not that. And it is difficult to explain, especially to Mian. He sees Varanasi the way I would like to. He appreciates the architecture, bonds with the people, and is moved by the music.


I , on the other hand, feel persecuted by the trash and the feral cows and the buffaloes. To me, the trash and the cows are not just inconveniences in themselves, but a result of what I dislike about Brahminical society. The cows for example. Hindus consider themselves to be vastly superior to other folks because they do not eat beef. They respect the Gau Mata, the mother cow. But the waste collection system in the prosperous, upper middle-class area that I live in failed because the residents refused to pay the charges. Instead, they drop the trash (including vegetable and fruit peel) on the road, tied in a plastic bag. The cows that they are 'too kind' to put down are starving and eat the trash, plastic and all. The result? Intestinal obstruction and death. To me, that is far worse than raising cattle for meat. And this is just one of the instances that make me cringe.

But I am writing this not to talk about Varanasi, but about myself. There was a time when like Mian, I could see the beauty in everything. Now I feel asif I am losing that. I see the ugly side to everything rather than the beauty. And both are present, of course. It is a matter of looking. I don't like this change. The ability to extract every drop of gladness from life has been what has kept me going always, it has almost been a definition of what chicu is. And now that seems to be going.

How do I tackle this? What do I do?


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Am I too happy?

A house in Parmawala, Bijnor district


Razia's husband died a few years ago. Her father-in-law is blind, her eldest daughter still a teenager. She also has a grandmother and two young children. Razia has had to learn how to maximise her resources to keep her family going. She rents land at Rs.10,000 a year, but stays away from planting high-risk, high-investment vegetables like the rest of the village. Instead, she went to the block agricultural office and got some eucalyptus seeds for free. She has now started a nursery of these and will sell them in a year's time to the other farmers in the village. Razia applies her brains as well as her strength to her work. If the dam authorities do not release water till her saplings are sturdy enough,if the rains come in time, next year might just see them not having to borrow food. That seems to be poor reward for all her effort and ingenuity.

She was the strongest person I met last week. The others seemed utterly  beaten down by all the challenges they faced. And who can blame them? An unimaginable lack of options and resources, all their  efforts laid waste by god-like dam authorities, and the burden of generations of malnutrition and illiteracy.

I came home tired yesterday and crept into Mian's arms. There I usually find comfort, but not last night. I lay for a long time listening to his breathing, with the reassuring weight of his arm across me, and I was terrified.

Mian and I, we are truly blessed. Our home, our family, our friends, our work, each other. I come back from visits like these and am scared that this is  too much to have. Is there something like being too happy? too rich? And I know this is silly of me, but last night all the old tales of the jealousy of gods kept coming into my head.
I am scared.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Those people

I was travelling along the Ramganga for the last week. And I discovered I was walking in a lost land.
At it's simplest, this was a land of lost skills. Look at the fan I've shown here. Not a particle of the materials used in its manufacture have been purchased for the purpose. The wool and cloth are remnants from clothes-making efforts. The wood- well, that's to be picked up on the road. The base for the central panel is made of the plastic sacks used for packing grains. A wonderful use of materials that would normally have been thrown away in many households, including mine.
But this is also a land of lost people.
Immediately after that visit, I found myself shivering because of the air-conditioning in a conference room. In that room filled with bureaucrats and scientists, the topic of discussion was 'those people'. 'Those people' encroach on river banks, I was told. 'They' complain all the time about diminishing returns from agriculture, but do not have the gumption to select an alternative. 'They' protest when dams release flood water. 'Those people' should learn that development is inevitable. 'Those people' do not understand progress.
And that drove me and my colleague to alternate between anger and despair. For us, 'those' messy, uncooperative, uncool people have names.
Munni Devi is a widow, so is her daughter. They are sharecroppers on a bit of land where they grow cucumbers and gourds and scratch out a pitiful living. Very soon, that land will be submerged by Progress. They are terrified by what will happen next. I am terrified that Munni's daughter will take the only option that is left to her.
Parmawala does not have a flood warning system. Om Prakash's son died in a sudden release this year. He had gone to strip the leaves from the sugarcane field where the family has farmed for generations. The son died, the fields were destroyed. The family received no compensation. They  were after all, quite literally in the path of progress.
Agwaanpur does have a flood warning system- the masjid issues a loudspeaker warning. But one of them said, 'We can leave, but do you think our fields can get up and run away?' Seed costs 7,000 Rs a kilo. One farmer told me that he sowed seeds three times this year. And lost his harvest anyway.
Those people always complain.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Missing Madhu Bhaloo

Madhu, pressed against Mian and waiting for me
Madhu's idea of all being right with the world is when she is sitting pressed up against my side. Being sandwiched between Mian and me is the height of bliss. At night, she will sit on me and slide down to the sheets to make sure she's as close to me as possible. And then rest her head on Mian.

She was operated recently- we don't want puppies every six months. It was traumatic for her, the poor little thing, and I was sad at all that I was putting her through. Despite that, the only way she would remain calm when groggy with the  pre-anesthesia injection was if I stood touching her.

For two nights after the operation, I tied her tight against the bed so that she could not turn her head. I applied a stinging iodine lotion to her wound several times a day. Thrice a day, I forced large pills down her throat. Through all that, despite my causing her pain and discomfort, she still was attached to me.

When I lifted her out of the hospital, she was still under anesthesia. I had planned to place her in the car so that her head could lay in my lap. When I did set her down , I did it  wrongly. Rather than push her around and hurt her stitches, I got into the car from the other side and sat with my hand on her legs. She was out, I reasoned. It would not matter.

Thirty seconds after the car started, a groggy, uncoordinated, dry tongued pup flopped around, fell off the seat and would only consent to be placed with her head on my lap. Once she was there, the world was okay again.

I waited till her stitches healed, and then took off. I left on the 29th of September, and will not be back home till the 12th of November.
I miss that pup-let so much.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Of privilege

I was sitting in the Old Delhi railway station waiting room when I heard cries between me. 'Hat! Hat!' screamed the woman attendant. I looked around. It was not a stray animal she was shooing out in that manner. It was a sleeping man. He woke, got up meekly and asked for permission to go to the loo before he left. 'No!' screamed the woman again.  I went cold with nervousness and guilt. My turn next, I thought, even as I knew that it would not come.

This was the 'upper class' waiting room- for passengers who have purchased a 3-tier AC ticket. The man who was being thrown out presumably had a sleeper class ticket. So did I. I too, was an interloper.

But I would not be thrown out, I knew. And I was both reassured and mortified by that. The being reassured is simple enough, the mortification needs some explanation.

See, what was the difference between me and that unlucky man? We both had sleeper tickets, we were both looking for a place to spend a few hours between trains. The difference was my being of a family of atleast four 'educated' generations, on both sides. And their being educated at that time could only happen because they were brahmins.

And today, because of them, I exude that something which makes the waiting room attendants believe that I belong in the Upper Class area. In the waiting room it was my computer. But the previous night, I was lying in my sleeper (non-AC) berth swaddled in Mian's lungi. Half-asleep, I could hear the ticket collector make his way up the compartment. He was business like to the point of being curt. 'Ticket dikhao' is all he said over and over again. And then I heard him say 'Hello Madam, your ticket please'. The three generations of brahmins apparently are visible even through a lungi.

It makes me uncomfortable, this cloak of privilege.

Disclaimer: I don't normally use my cloak. The ladies' waiting room was closed for maintenance, and the general one was shadowy and forbidding.




Friday, August 8, 2014

The perils of interviewing

While interviewing people in the course of work, I always am slightly uncomfortable. Researchers ask respondents for their time, their opinions and their  emotions. All of this is often willingly given. And what do we give in exchange? Very often, it is nothing.
And sometimes, we offer entertainment in exchange.
This happened when N and I trudged up to a village almost exactly in the centre of Uttarakhand. 'We are trying to understand the river', we said. 'We would like to speak with you.' We were led to a group of  five merry old women-maybe in their seventies. These were old friends who had now moved to various cities, but return to their village every year.
 On age:
'What is your age?' I asked one.
'The same as yours'
'But I am 37!'
'That's what I said. Now write that down!'

On livestock:
We asked them the number of cows, buffaloes, goats, and mules  in the village. At the end of  it, one of them pointed to a mango tree.
'There are crows there. We don't know how many, but you should go and count them.'




Saturday, July 19, 2014

Towards the light

The dark underground space was full of small chirps and whistles. Almost unheard among these was the faint sound like paper being torn as the first baby pushed out of its egg. This was immediately followed by more rustlings till the entire brood had emerged from their eggs into the warm darkness of their nest. Aimlessly, they stumbled around till the first of them felt a far-off thunder and sensed a glimmer of light above. This faint radiance drew the brood towards it with the all consuming passion of  going home.

Its siblings stayed back as the first baby turtle struggled up from the nest and poked its head out onto the beach. After several suspenseful seconds, it clambered out and was immediately followed by the rest of the brood. They were going home.

There it was. The sparkling horizon reeled them in, all instincts led the turtles to scurry towards that light. Where the light twinkled, their bodies told them, there it was. There they would find home.

They continued walking around, over, and through traps that their instincts could not warn them against. The plastic bags and discarded nets and rolls of twine trapped some, but the others went on and on towards home.

Stray dogs claimed some turtles and terrorised the others. But it did not matter, there- just in front of them- surely was home.

They couldn't reason, but their bodies knew what to do. Over the beach they struggled, filled with an overwhelming sense of urgency that drove them on. And so the turtles eagerly panted on and on, towards the distant rumble and twinkling lights of the East Coast Road.

Far away behind them, the sparkling Bay of Bengal continued to call its babies.

*  *  *




D, my colleague, told me of the disorientation of the Olive Ridley hatchlings due to the road along the beach. Very few of these hatchlings survive that first walk to the ocean, even fewer reach adulthood. There are some efforts being made to lessen the extent of the damage that humans are doing. The Chennai Students Sea Turtle Conservation Network I've been told, are doing stellar work.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

In hiding

There is a woman I wish I knew better. She's super-intelligent, attractive, and tough. She has committed her life to a cause most would consider lost, but still retains her sense of humour. Her integrity, her courage and her brilliance are held in awe by all the people who know her. In three sentences, I have told you pretty much all I know about her, barring a few details of name and place. Despite this paucity of information, I love her. I believe she likes me too.

She has been diagnosed with cancer of the breast. The mutual friend I spoke with could not hide the betrayal he felt as he told me that the tumour was not discovered for a long time. 'I don't understand how you can not notice something like that', he said. 'It's in such..such  a prominent place.' And then stuttered at his wretched choice of word. He didn't need to. I understand what he  meant. As a man worried about possible  inflammation of a hidden gland, it can be difficult to understand how women can not see something right under their  chins.

The truth is, we banish our breasts into hiding.

I am not talking of publicly- there of course, the two-three layers are there, covered with a dupatta over it all. I am talking of in private. Neither I nor my friends, non-prudish and non-diffident women though we might be, ever look at our naked breasts. We shower in a hurry, wear our clothes in the bathroom, and only face the mirror for makeup. We are conditioned to go through life hiding our breasts, and we have learnt to do that so effectively that we hide them from ourselves as well. And yes, there are times when we show them off. But then too, they are not something we look at for themselves- they are just tools in our seduction kit. Do you ever anxiously examine your chisel? And so it is shockingly easy to not notice any changes.

A breast self-examination. Learnt properly, practised regularly. Please.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Gardening is sexy!


Yes, it is incredibly sensual. There are very few other activities I know that so utterly enchant your senses. To potter around among the vegetables, feeling the air on your skin, smelling the flowering tomatoes and being kissed by the plants while the bees hum around you? It's a wonder I get any other work done at all. Focused on your surroundings, no detail gets missed. The tight symmetry of a sunflower bud, the glossy back of a ladybird, the intoxication of brushing against mint- the only other time we notice and admire such details is when we fall in love.

Our tomatoes
But like making love, gardening has its share of painfully embarrassing moments. And I am not just talking of those mornings when we wake up with aching muscles and realise that our enthusiasm has once again overridden -excuse the pun- our abilities.

First peaches from the garden
No, I am talking of conversation. Since G undertook to do the digging and heavy work around the garden, I find myself in increasingly more involved and explicit conversations. This is not helped by my poor hindi and his impeccable propriety.

Take something as simple as planting maize. G adores rows, I prefer blocks. In this case, I wanted  to explain to him why it is not just a matter of preference in the case of maize. I wanted to say that the male and female flowers are separate, that the plant is wind pollinated, and that block planting ensures that the pollen falls on the female flowers. Simple enough in English. Try to do that in a language you are not comfortable with. I ended up slipping into hand gestures before I blushed and ended with 'please just prepare a square be..plot! i mean square plot!'

And today he found me among the squash trying to impregnate a pumpkin. Not for the faint hearted, this  gardening business.
Zucchini- thankfully, these pollinate themselves

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A story of perfume

Open any woman's cupboard and you will inhale a rich mixture of scents, evocative of her own self.

There might be the deep sweetness of a sandalwood jewellery box, the intense woodiness of some carefully hoarded spices, the lemony fruitiness of her favourite lotion, and there will always be perfume. That's how I remember my mother's and sister's cupboards. Amma's cupboard was redolent of sandal and lavender, my sister's of more complex perfumes and creams. As a tomboyish child who - if you were lucky- smelled of Nycil and Pears, these cupboards were indescribably exotic.

And then my  own cupboard acquired fragrance. First simpler florals and finally grown-up perfumes. I remember a friend hugging me once. 'Oh, that's what the magazines mean,' she exclaimed, 'when they say a perfume should be only smelled by the one kissing you.'

But later on, a mean little voice began to be heard inside my head. 'Such things are for pretty women' it hissed.'What are you doing with them?' I stopped and my cupboard  became a purely functional, sterile thing.

Still later, Mian came along and insisted that I deserved all the prettiest and most splendiferous things in the universe. Incredibly enough, I began to believe him. But I still did not buy any perfume. By then, I was out of place in a store that sold fripperies. I felt clumsy and gauche and showed it.

Fragrance came back to my list of 'someday haves' though, spurred by a friend who told me with a mix of shyness and defiance 'I buy nice things for myself these days. Why not?' Why not indeed? I began to read fragrance blogs. Mian, spectacular husband that he is, took notice and took notes.

And on my birthday, he pulled out the very bottle I was lusting for .'Did I get the right one?' he asked worriedly. He had, but there is no wrong one.

Now when I open my cupboard, there it is- that lovely, lovely fragrance. All mine. Back after so many years.
Thank you, Mian

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Death by indiference

I wrote earlier about Rubeena and her family.
Since then, I have put up a photoset on India Water Portal's flickr page. Please do go and take a look- The people and the landscape need to be not forgotten.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/indiawaterportal/sets/72157645043804894/

Monday, June 9, 2014

How my garden grows

I have three gardening enthusiast friends in the Chatola-Sitla area. Two of these, A and L, have gardens as mature and exquisite as themselves. Their gardens manage to be both quiet and exuberant, voluptuous  and aloof. When confronted with these gardens, I find myself stunned into silence with my mouth hanging open. Come to think of it, that's also how I am in the presence of the ladies who created these spaces. I covet a garden like that, just as I too want to be as gracious and..and refined  as the gardeners. And I know that neither is achievable for the bumblebee that I am.

Our garden is  still in its infancy as far as Mian's and mine influence goes. But thankfully, we have inherited established plants from the people who lived here earlier- things that give us much joy and would have taken us a decade to grow. There are the fruit trees, of course. But there are also the giant sunflowers that I love so much, and the beautiful old roses, the lilies that crop up every year.

There are also things that I am not particularly fond of, but still turn up and are welcomed every year- the ramrod straight gladioli, the faded-yellow dahlias. They are all welcomed.
The beautiful rose arch..would have taken us  years to get it
Our mark- Mian's and mine and G's- is becoming slowly apparent now. We have planted things to climb over the house- ivy and roses and cathedral bells. There is a baby rosemary hedge- it is 6 inches tall now, but soon I will be able to spread our linen to dry on it. There are lots of golden rod and salvia to attract bees. There's parsley and chives and sage for the picking.
The Giant Sunflower in the foreground, flanked by gladioli, mint below, parsley and chives in the background, and lettuce and squash just visible!

 And things are always happening in the garden- nearly every day, a new 'project' gets executed. I want fragrance, and shade. I want bumblebees and honeybees, and birds and frogs and earthworms. And for this, I need lots of fragrant flowering and fruiting things. It will happen- Not soon, but it will.

The wild himalayan rose- my favourite flower here. We don't have it near the house yet. This  monsoon, I wil plant lots

Thursday, June 5, 2014

I lied to Rubeena

And I wish I hadn't. I didn't know then, that I was lying to her.

This was in Chaubari, where I was interviewing people about the state of the Ramganga.

Rubeena was in the middle of harvesting cucumbers from her fields in the middle of the river. She, along with most of the other people from her village, plant the bed of the river when the waterlevels are low. This  silty soil, with a good source of water just below, is ideal for melons, cucurbits, and gourds. They have been doing this for generations. And pitiful though the profits are, Rubeena and her fellow-farmers do not know of any other means of income. There is the farming, and a little labour in the off season.

And now there is a barrage coming up just downstream.

Rubeena had heard rumours that the barrage meant that they would be displaced, their lands flooded, their villages evicted. Not so, I told her.  The barrage is only for protective irrigation during the Kharif- the monsoon crop. Once the monsoon is over, the water will be let out and you will be able to farm as usual.
Rubeena's children
Turns out, that is not the case. I spoke to the engineer who had designed this and he said that my assumption was only half correct. Yes, this was intended only for Kharif, but there would be some impounding throughout the year. I protested, spoke about the farmers in that place. 'Change happens' he said. And then he added that awful phrase- 'It is the price of progress.'

The problem here is that the landed farmers of a far-off district are progressing while people like Rubeena pay the price.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shooing boars

It began when Gangadi and I went to a meeting of the spring conservation committee in Mauna. The women participated in it, but then complained to us.

 'We always come to your meetings', they said. 'You never come to ours.'

'Call us and we will'. Ganga and I rashly promised

'Midnight tomorrow then. We are chasing boars.'

'Ah'

And so it is that one evening the two of us  caught the last bus down to Mauna.

That was the most raucous all-night party I've attended since my wicked college days. Actually, even those days were tame.

The people of Mauna had divided themselves into 5 groups. Earlier in the night, around 11pm, the groups formed, going from house to house and gaining members. They all met at the school where there was dancing and singing.

video

And then they diverged again to patrol  the village shouting, singing, beating tin canisters, ringing bells and lighting small fires.

Finally, around 1, the groups settled down for an hour or so in different fields for gossip and singing before moving back home.

I saw a totally different side to the women. Was it the faux anonymity offered by the darkness, or are they always like this  outside the meetings? They were joyful, boisterous and full of fun. The three men in our group were subject to ribald jokes. They would dance - and wonderfully- whenever the mood struck them.

We were in bed at 3am and lamenting the fact that we needed to catch the 8am bus. When we woke and staggered out, we were met by the women again. They had finished milking, cleaning the cowsheds, getting fodder, cooking and were now off to the fields- in high spirits.

These women humble me.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I walked from Mauna


Now if a pahari woman was to read this she would shrug- it's the walk that I know G casually makes to meet up with friends on festival days. But for Ganga and I, it was momentous indeed. It started off when we were returning from spending the night with a colleague.
We would catch the eight O'clock bus, and return in time for Ganga to go to office, we decided. Easy enough, except the bus never came. We asked around, walked till the junction from where we could get six-seaters, waited there, and finally called for help. The only help that was coming was in the form of a motorcycle. I can't go triples, I said. Not on these roads.
And I knew the old bridle path that led up to Chatola.  And who minds a walk when we have things like these to look at?


And so I handed over the two brooms and giant melon (my purchases from the relatively big market of Mauna) to Ganga and set off. A pahari woman would have carried the purchases herself. But I was proud of me. Not only did I do the walk, but I also arrived in decent time and in good enough breath to play with Madhu Bhaloo when I did reach. As for what I was doing in Mauna in the first place, that's another post!