Jan 8, 2012

Rajasthan Notes: Acts of Kindness

Looking back on the 2500kms of roads traversed in Rajasthan in the winter of 2011, the all pervading laughter still rings distant as a murmur. The conversations, like dust, seems to have gently settled in the cracks of the days passed by.  The silences however seep into this moment as I write this, warm and somewhat still reminiscent of the desert sun on chilly winter mornings.

As a traveler, while I do seek  the names of people they gradually fade away from memory and with time so does their faces. What stays intact are the isolated moments of the myriad ways they touched me for just that instant in time. This is a tribute to some of those people, some pictures and some just words.
A nameless band of 'truck bhaiyyas' [Truck drivers] These are a group of people who helped us fix our car, gave us direction and set us on the right roads and sometimes just gave merry company for a meal at a Dhaba [highway eating joints popularly found in north India]. Also the famed 'Rajasthani' hospitality bestowed upon us here and there, through ubiquitous cup of steaming tea.

The musicians, most of them playing in tourist hotspots, but what set Birju apart [outside of his brilliant tomato red 'safa'] was his deep melancholic countenance and his disinterest in the world around. He played on his 'Chikara' a 3 stringed instrument in silence looking around but meeting no one's eye in particular. We sat there and listened to him for a long while, just to internalize a little of his music and perhaps a bit of his soul.

The mustard fields near Behror, where we wandered in for a Sunset and was invited into the household of Kamala, Nirmala & Vimala and their children for cups of piping hot tea. They invited us to stay, two strangers they willingly opened their house and hearts to. We visited them on the way back as well, they insisted we have a meal, if not then at least carry back some flour (made of Bajra/Pearl Millet) for the road ahead.

The open heartedness of many a 'dhaba bhaiyya' [bhaiyya being a popular north Indian term for elder brother] who would whip up a meal at the early hours of the morning on many a roads along the way.  A flurry of acts of random kindness is what makes journeys such as these stay on for much after the road runs out. I hope in our own small ways, we made our way into the hearts of these people, as well.


Anonymous said...

Every specimen of the male-species who does not speak English (at least, fluently), and understands a smattering of Hindi - you term 'Bhaiyya'. Surprisingly, every time a woman says 'bhaiyya', first associated entity in my mind is you.

And, for kicks, I shall be anonymous. JLT.

Aditi Das Patnaik said...

Dear Anonymous,

:) am glad am being thought of, 'bhaiyya' or no :D