When one realizes that life is worthless he either commits suicide or travels. –Edward Dahlberg, Reasons of the Heart
I have on sly made good use of the above quote, many a times and trust me if you have experienced Mumbai’s swarming rains, you’ll agree with my “Runaway, save a poet” propaganda.
Destination – step on the gas, roll.
When not sure, I usually take Mumbai – Goa highway cause if nothing works out, Goa is the quintessential destination for me. In fact any time of the year my regular bar “Mango Tree” and the Russian babes in Goa are a perfect rescue when in need. Don’t get wrong ideas, please. Russians with their limited English-speaking ability “hello, beer, money, tequila, good night, smoke a joint, thank you, FUCK YOU” that’s all they know which makes them quite reliable to pour my heart out, my money too.
Fate though had a surprise in wraps for me and I landed up in a village, deep in the interiors of Maharashtra where there is no electricity, no mobile network but rice fields aplenty, pretty houses made by the families themselves who live in it, a river stream and one utility store.
Have you ever called a friend, a relative asking if you may sleep over their place for a night or two? At first instance, you’d rather say “I better check myself in a hotel room”. Now try a village in India, knock on a door, any door, request them and they’ll let you in. 9 out of ten times, they will. So here I am. A family of three.(I’ll avoid delving into names and details. Try and make this a quick read. I understand. 21 days of blogging, remember?)
My first meal in this house, is served lavishly on a steel plate. Later find out, they eat on banana leaves, the river stream is a distance away and it takes a few rounds to bring water enough for bathing and cleaning. Banana leaves make sense, totally. So, next day, life returns to normal.
Notice her smile. It’s a saying in India to treat guests like God. Though not relevant nowadays especially in urban cities but rural India still believes in spite of their humble dwellings and limited resources.
They cook on firewood. Most locals barter their produce with fellow farmers depending on each other’s needs. The rest is sold off to a city market 120 kms away.
As the ritual goes, women of the house serve meal to their family and guests first, later eat alone. An Indian custom in villages, you cannot change but this couple works together in their farm and equally participates to run household errands but primarily man deals with the world and brings home money to his wife, his trusted partner.(Picture below, I requested him to pose with his wife while she ate.)
4 days in this quiet village was enchanting. Slept on hard floor, no fans, organic fresh food. “A writer, a writer” they told their neighbors with pride. For them education and a government post, a fixed salary is a dream life, they yearn and labor for their kids, a stable future, lesser hardship.
As for me, this boy reminded me of my lost childhood, I knew not then the value of education, family, friends or love, took all for granted. An ignorant fool.