I realize this continues to be a superficial account of our trip to India, but I’m very conscious of how my worldview as a Westerner colors things, which makes a deeper account of it time-consuming and fraught. So I’ll continue with the pictures as I sort things out.
A few days into our visit, K’s cousin took us out to his mango farm a couple of hours north of Mumbai.* It’s near a little village called Dhundalwadi, which means “foggy hamlet.” The farm is extremely beautiful, especially in the rainy season, which K and I were very much enjoying after our last couple months in the desert.
We sat on the veranda by the little courtyard chatting for an hour or two.
That is K’s cousin’s wife, Ami. If I learned nothing else from this trip (though I hope I learned another thing or two), I learned that it’s much easier to place everyone on a family tree when you actually meet them in person instead of just hearing their names. This next photo is K’s aunt whom I know as badi-mami-ji (“mami” means that she is the wife of K’s maternal uncle, “badi” specifies that it was the elder of the maternal uncles, and “ji” is respectful—these things get very specific).
She is an excellent person and all of her outfits were as beautiful as this one.
For lunch we drove to a roadside restaurant for kebabs. It was called Parsi Dabba, but K said the food was Punjabi. (I’m not equipped to argue the differences between Parsi and Punjabi cuisine. Someday.) The customers sat under tents in a garden and the server carried a monsoon umbrella to deliver the food from the kitchen to the tables. If I had to choose a favorite meal in India, this one would win for atmosphere. The food was good, too. Paneer tikka is my new favorite thing.
After lunch we came back to the farmhouse and the ladies took a nap while K and I had a couple beers with his cousin, Shyam. (Shyam-bhaiya, to us.)
We were sitting on this… raised gazebo-like thing?
I wouldn’t have noticed that the wood is just a covering on the concrete construction, but it seems obvious now that actual wood would not survive a single rainy season. Wood disintegrates quickly in this climate. Except the live stuff, of course.
You can’t tell from the pictures, but the water came up beyond our ankles, so walking through this was more like wading.
Most people in the area farm the rice-paddies, and this was the big season for that. We could see them at working in the distance. This photo is terrible, but it’s just as well because it doesn’t seem right to post sharp photos of unsuspecting strangers, and this has a sort of impressionist feel that suits the mood of the day.
The conical rain-jackets make sense for this kind of work, and in this picture, you can see them from the back, front, and side. Like in a catalog. This was not intentional.
I’m trying to quit while I’m ahead with this stuff so… More tomorrow! (Famous last-post words.)
*I’ve heard that it’s a very American thing to measure driving distance in time instead of miles or kilometers, and I nearly edited that last sentence to be more precise, but I’m leaving it for a little American flavor.