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.'


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.

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!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Shona's gone

There. Said it. This has kept me offline for the last few months.
Shona Bhaloo disappeared one morning in April. We hunted and hunted for her, waited so many nights. She never came back. The logical explanation is that either a leopard took her, or a human being did.
Mian and I are sad.
But also glad we have Madhu Bhaloo. Her own daughter. The one about whom I say that she neither has her mother's beauty nor her brains. Thankfully, she has her heart.
Here's the last photo I have of Shona. Sho and Madhu are on our porch. Shona  is alert and watchful as usual, Madhu  is clueless, also as usual.