Unremarked villages

A week ago we drove four hours out of the city to stay at a place by a lake in the middle of the Sahyadris. We wanted to spend a day in the middle of nothing, driving and walking along village roads and fields, and possibly walk uphill for a bit. To do that we drove along the highway, looking for the turn that would take us towards a couple of smaller hill forts. At this unremarked turnoff a village had grown larger than its neighbours. In the evening we saw commerce at full swing. The “Gent’s Parlour” was busy, one man getting a shave, while another waited. The door advertised a long menu of services: cut, shave, massage were expected, but mask, bleach, scrub, and facial were not, and chandan left me guessing. Would that be a sandalwood facial?

In the morning The Family had found a bakery in the village setting out fresh baked biscuits, and picked up an assortment. It had lasted us through the day. At the end of the day we stopped at a large and popular stall for a tea. I’d missed these roadside eateries during the last couple of years. The tea was made with care and ginger, and lubricated the end of the pack of biscuits. It’s making gave me enough time to walk about a bit and take a few photos. I was lucky with the time. It was the golden hour, when the most ordinary of sights take on an extraordinary glow.

It had been an overcast day, which constantly promised rain. As soon as we got out I realized that I had forgotten to pack rain gear. “In the middle of monsoon!” The Family shook her head. Fortunately it did not rain. But many of my photos had a gloomy and rainy look about them. Like this of a hut, next to paddy fields, standing between trees. The setting had the look of numerous idyllic paintings of the Indian countryside: fields, a hut, with its own small kitchen garden where the woman stood, only the man and his oxen in the field were missing. A zoom gave me a good view of the hut. Its sturdy front door was shut, but the coloured cloth decorating the front wall gave it a cheerful look. A blue tarp covered an opening higher in the roof for the monsoon; I guess in summer it is removed to let air into the house.

It was pretty late in the day when we passed this village school. Earlier, The Family had chatted with girls walking home from school and some boys had stopped to look at me taking macros of flowers. Not every village has a school. We’d seen children in uniforms and with a backpack walking fairly long distances to school. The school was closed now. A man walked around checking that the windows were properly shut. I was surprised that after all these years Indira Gandhi still shared wall space with a colourful grid with the alphabet. So many people live and work in the unremarked villages that we saw, doing all the things that people do anywhere in the world. Their lives are quite as busy as ours. We talked about them briefly, in passing. Just so, some of them must have talked about us, briefly, before their conversation went on to something of more interest to them.

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By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

20 comments

  1. I love the charming Sahyadari villages. Have stopped by to get some Hari Patti chai (lemon grass tea) and bhel, among other things.

    I’m glad to have explored this scenic part of India in the last one year thanks to my younger one’s boarding school.

    I love the rain drenched shots.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I couldn’t help but extend your observations to you. Your descriptions make what would be an ordinary, unremarkable village sound like a place I’d like to stop and visit. Thanks for sharing your journey.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love all these photos, they’ve transported me instantly to a very different place from my London suburb, which is what all good travel photos should do! I also wish I’d taken many of them, especially the barber’s shop and the zoom shot of the small house 🙂 Like you I often ponder about the lives of the people in places like this, which touch mine for just a moment as we pass.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alie and I drove to a friend’s memorial service a few days ago. She has not been well for along time, so we took two days to make a drive that would normally take half a day. We drove through farmland and “unremarked” villages that are fast disappearing in the ever more urban U.S. We love these places, and I love your posts on Indian locations never covered in travel magazines or shows.

    Liked by 1 person

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