by invitation only

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.


79 thoughts on “by invitation only

  1. I love your intro quote and is the last picture of you, if so, very befitting. Makes me think of Henry David Thoreau, who said i am living Walden’s pond for the same reason I came

  2. A story which starts off without any promise of purpose but delivers a portrait of beauty. Treat the guest as God; seeing a true example through you, I believe again.

  3. Wonderful story. Welcome! Thank you for subscribing to follow my blog. I hope you are encouraged, inspired and enjoy the photos I take of life’s events as seen through the lens of my camera.

  4. Pingback: Sunshine Award « Zone 640 x 480

  5. Namaste.

    If I could be granted one wish, it would be the ability to understand, speak and write every language of Earth so I could travel everywhere and come to truly know my brothers and sisters.

    In my opinion, you are a most fortunate fellow Arjun Bagga.

    • Thank you Richard. I consider myself fortunate. Since childhood, I found comfort in the company of ones who have little or nothing. They have graced me with love and warmth in their humble abode.
      Three basic needs of a man i.e. food, water and shelter, you may not know the language but with folded hands and a smile, people do opens their doors for you.

  6. Fascinating! And corroborates what I have heard from many– about the generosity of the poor towards their guests. Great to travel vicariously if one cannot do it oneself. Thank you for the trip.

    • Let me tell you a secret. This happened two years back, not so long ago but enough time gone by to ponder if I did this again, would I encounter a similar beautiful experience and each like and comment on this post strengthens my resolve to pack and leave. Thank you and I will return with another story to share. Soon.

  7. Beyond inspirational. Love the smiles and tranquility.

    I hope you don’t mind if I reblog your link on my reblog page?

  8. Wonderful photographs. Thank you for visiting me. I see that you live in Mumbai. My last post was in reference to the brutal rape, beating and killing of the 23 year-old woman med tudent. I am proud that so many of the Indian people- men and women have come together to put pressure on the government to punish rapists. II would like this post passed around to as many people as possible, especially in India. You will see why at the end of the post. I wrote this for every woman, but especially for the women in India right now. Happy New Year and God Bless

  9. Fantastic post. Another time I’ll tell you about a similar experience I had back in Brazil. In the meantime, happy new year and thanks for stopping by at Colltales. Wesley

  10. I found this post fascinating. I love reading and learning about India. I don’t read much historical fiction, but when I do, my preference is a book whose setting is India. My all-time favorite read is “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry. So beautifully written, I’m filled with both awe and envy.

    Thanks for stopping by my site. I appreciate it.

      • 🙂 Jaisalmer is the city of thieves? No… It was brilliant. 2 glorious months doing nothing but explore, drink Bang Lassi, and drop Pakistani opium (i was much younger then). I’d call Agra the city of thieves. What a hellhole that place was. You ever managed to get yourself up into the northern mountains?

        • Agra tops the list. Inhuman, miserable people after your money, anything they could strip you of..
          I have the picture of bhang shop outside Jaisalmer fort. The king of Jaisalmer is a shrewd sly and many a locals are involved in smuggling, old timers. Hence the joke.
          I have been to ladakh, himalayas three times.
          You though have traveled places, i can but only in India. I have no income to pay my most countries won’t give me a visa.

          • I know that feeling! I was an illegal in Brazil for 6 years. The Federal police man i went to see about my predicament simply said, “You’re ok, just try not to kill anyone or that might complicate your belated residency application.”

          • Hey John, You should share your life story with us alongside. It must be a journey worth reading, In fact I was wanting to ask what makes you a well-read, ardent atheist on a life mission to create awareness and bring about change, some sense.

          • Arjun, my life story is best summed up by the Alice in Wonderland print in my About section. I do odd things at odd times. Before enjoying the fruits of the Thar desert i spent 2 months at RaRa Lake in Northwestern Nepal, fishing. This was straight after my first stint at Uni and had no idea what i wanted to do. Picked up a map (this was way before the internet) and saw this tiny lake up in the Himalaya and decided to go and see it. What i found (there was nothing there) i liked so i pitched my tent and just stayed, watching with fascination what that remote pocket of the earth brought my way. After that i thought the desert would be interesting. From what i read you most definitely sound like a brother in arms.

          • I’d like to hear more of your life, if you consider my request, do write about key events in your life that connects., leads to your beliefs be it about atheism or anything else you wish your readers to take note of.

  11. I love to travel, but for me an inner journey is the best. Love picture #5 big smile + good food=perfeciton and the last one has so much meaning good post!

    • Inner journey is important and is a constant process for a seeker, either through travel, sitting in a room quiet or just doing what they doing but in complete conscious state.
      Thank you so much for liking this post.
      Warm Regards

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