Thursday 10 January 2013

Incredible India – Experiences

This is a painting by an Indian artist

During the mid and late seventies things were different. It was a different time, different generation where folks were innocent and still believed in family values, respect, and not tempted by material things. Little of the old tradition still existed in this India of that era. No television, no mobile phones and no foreign made cars. I was in college and trying to understand the world outside home and college.

Lassi in Agra
A group of college students left for north to visit Delhi and surrounding towns of interest. From Delhi we proceeded to Agra as Taj Mahal was on our list with other places to see. We were in great spirits, but due to the heat and travel, we were thirsty. We moved in to a small dabba like stall on the road side. There were few people having lassi. We ordered three lassis. Out came three pots of fresh lassi and three big glasses. We poured the lassi in to the glass; chatting amongst ourselves we finished the glass. We kept the glass down on the table and asked him, ‘bhaiya kitna hua.’ The middle-aged vendor had been observing us and said, ‘Ap bahar ke ho, Mumbai se?’ When we nodded he said, Maine apko logo ko bath karte suna aur apke basha se laga ap Mumbai ke hi hai.’ And further stated, ‘Ap hamare meheman hai, pahele pura lassi pi lo. Ye matka ka lassi ap hi ka hai. Pura pi lo, phir mai paisa lunga. Ap log jawan hai, lassi pi lo, aaram se pi lo. With great difficulty we finished the lassi in the pot, it was about two and half glasses in the pot. He chatted with us about Mumbai and later said, ‘Ye hui na bath, acha kiya pura pi lia, ab paise do. He smiled at us and told us to come again. The lassi was great and thick. The man was friendly and what an unique experience.

Groundnut in Andhra
Again in the late seventies, I and a couple of friends visited Cuddapah region of Andhra Pradesh.
While on our way to visit a mine, we had to cross the fields. While on our way with the mine-owner and his manager across the fields, we heard a group of local people calling out to us in Telegu. The manger told us, the farmers are asking us to come over. He also said, here the farmers have a custom that whenever they harvest the groundnut crop, if they see any strangers around, they invite and request them to have some. We proceeded in their direction. The farmers dusted a few stones and made us sit down. The simple folks plucked out the groundnut, cleaned and roasted them for us. They also packed some roasted ones and told us to carry it. While leaving, they offered us water from their pots and bid us goodbye. 

Vengurla and Waterbury Clock made in 1894
During my May 2011 visit to Konkan, I visited Uday Shirodkar, residing at Vengurla with his wife Sangeeta and sons Kiron (15 yrs) & Tejas (12 yrs). He is into spices business. He has a fascination for antiques with a good collection of old and rare items. He owns a Waterbury Clock made in Sept 1894. It is still in excellent working condition. He also has the original manual sheet giving Directions for setting the clock & alarm. It has been manufactured by Waterbury, Conn, USA. Hope the company takes note that one of their unique clock is still ticking and working fine in remote Vengurla, in Konkan region of western India.

These are the experiences we miss in today’s India. Hope it is alive in some corners of India? These simple folks teach us what real India is about. I only wish the present generation could experience this India.

Elephanta Caves near Mumbai, India

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