Villages

For the last three years we’ve explored the Sahyadris in the monsoon more than we ever did before, and grown to love it. Newspapers are full of stories of how European embassies, and the US, are unable to handle the visa application loads that they used to handle routinely before the pandemic. We believe them, and we don’t even think of going further west than two hundred kilometers. As a result I discovered the rain gear that they use in rural Maharashtra: a framework of bamboo covered with plastic: a hands-free umbrella which sits on your head. That’s what the trio above are wearing as they go into the fields to work.

The landscape is spectacular of course, with the sculptured mountains completely covered with trees. But it is also the fields, which glow a fluorescent green in the watery sunlight of monsoon, the wildflowers of this season, and the tiny unnamed villages which are sprinkled among the rice paddies. You can tell each by its temple. We passed by the doors of many, and paused a while at each to take a photo. Some are surrounded by huts, others stand at a distance from the hamlet. They all look very interesting.

Motorbikes

Held up in the slow traffic behind a heavily loaded tractor trundling along a highway, you might believe that rural India travels on tractors. This is not true. Go off the highway and travel on country roads. You’ll find that India travels on motorbikes. They are cheaper than cars, and perform better on dirt tracks than pick-up trucks. I tried to make myself inconspicuous by the sides of roads as I took photos of passing bikers. A pair in water proofs whizzed by. Sacks of greens rode pillion. It looked like paddy being transported for transplanting.

Elsewhere I saw a lone biker carrying blankets bundled up in a piece of cloth. I was caught in a sudden downpour and sheltered under a thorn tree. He stopped ahead of me and adjusted the bundle. Taking it from the pillion, he held it to his rainward shoulder, and huddled behind it as he passed. No better protection than the sparse foliage of a thorn tree, I thought. He presented a better picture than me, though.