We had big plans that day: we were visiting a small village but the coolest part was that we were riding on bullock carts. These are small wooden carts pulled by oxen. The ride was bumpy but it was something I won’t soon forget.
Our driver was a young boy around 11 or 12. He did a great job. Others in our group had a few testy oxen and they kept trying to sit down and didn’t want to pull the carts.
The best part of this trip was getting to speak to local villagers. This young woman invited us into her family’s home. It was a small mud hut we had to practically duck walk into. We kicked off our shoes and sat down on a blanket and listened to her telling us about her kitchen and the tools she uses (through Raj as a translator). They have a stone and grinding board to make their own masala mixes out of fresh herbs and spices—no canned mixes for them. She uses a bamboo sifter to sort wheat and beans every day.
Indian women have a very busy day. When I stop to think about all the complaining I do to make a meal by opening a few cans and boxes, I feel ashamed of myself. Forgetting the bread means a simple car ride into town to pick up another loaf. If these women want naan, they grind the wheat, roll it out with their one rolling pin (hers was on loan to a local family that was preparing for a wedding—she went and got it for us to see), and cooking it in one of her two or three pans over a wood fire. In this small mud hut that was probably smaller than my living room, she lives with her husband, 10 month old baby, mother-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, and two or three nieces and nephews. Imagine: 8 or more people in such a small place with no electricity. She was so happy to have us there and very willing to tell us about her way of life.
I posted earlier about the absurd experience using an indoor toilet that was unlike the ones I’m used to; she didn’t have indoor plumbing. It is a real eye-opener.
We interacted with local children and villagers. Just like when we visited the resettlement colony, I couldn’t help but notice how childhood is universal. These kids didn’t have the hundreds of tractor toys and many of the luxuries we enjoy in the US, but they reminded me so much of Wyatt. They wanted attention and danced silly and smiled and waved just like he would have done with a crowd of folks at our house.
We also met a group of villagers that told us about the bamboo baskets they made to sell in the market. Raj brought a young girl up that was 13 or 14. She told us when her mother was her age, she was married and expecting her first child. Now with laws about child marriage, she wasn’t going to be married for 4 or 5 more years. She seemed very excited to show off her basket. When I asked if we could buy them, Raj asked them to bring them out for us to see. Everyone had baskets they had crafted and wanted to sell. He asked them how much they would sell them for and they wanted 10 rupees each! That’s $0.17! Raj insisted that they sell them for at least 100, which was still only $1.67. We each paid 200 rupees for them. On our way out of the village, we were able to see some locals actually weaving the baskets outside of their homes. I got a large basket to use as a fruit bowl in my kitchen.
After we returned, we ate at a beautiful restaurant. This opulent place was only about 1/2 mile from the village we visited. We were feasting on a hot buffet and drinking cold Cokes that close to these villagers that didn’t even have running water. The dichotomy of personal economics is a strange thing.
After our lunch, we visited a mango farm. The farm hands climbed up a tree and brought down a fresh mango plucked right from the branch. It smelled heavenly! It wasn’t ripe or I would have eaten the whole thing! They also had ginger, jack fruit, guava fruit, and goats.