December 1, 2012 – Not only did we find a place to sleep, we made new friends – Indian friends. As soon as we arrived at the farmhouse we were greeted by the whole family: the farmer’s wife and mother, his two sons (5 and 7 years old), his sister and two dogs. They asked us if we wanted to have a bed to sleep in instead of pitching a tent in the complete darkness and we were even happier. We were invited into the house and got wonderful hot Indian chai to warm up a bit. The farmer’s wife Sunita spoke English very well and we could easily communicate with each other. After a while we asked where we could cook our dinner but they told us we were their guests and invited for dinner – if we would like that! OF COURSE WE LIKED THAT, what a question. We were in heaven – not only did we have a bed to sleep in, we also got delicious Indian food served and went to bed clean: they happily shared their bathroom with us.
We finally arrived!
I was invited into the kitchen to watch the women’s cooking. The roles in this household are well-defined: Sunita is responsible for the cooking, the household and the children, her mother-in-law takes care of the farming around the house such as preparing cow dung cakes (they are later used for fueling the ovens), milking the cows, cleaning around the farm – she’s a woman full of energy, gets up at 4am every morning and cannot sit still for more than 5 minutes.
Sunita’s sister-in-law is still studying and helps her with the cooking and the household. In this family cooking is a major business since everything gets freshly prepared. Curd, buttermilk or lassie are homemade from their own milk. The dough for the famous North Indian chapattis (pancakes) they eat three times per day gets prepared three times per day! The woman who is preparing the dough usually sits on the kitchen ground with a huge bowl in front of her. A lot of other tasks such as peeling and cutting vegetables are prepared while sitting on the bed. The women are chatting and it’s been a great experience for me to just be around them even though I wasn’t allowed to do anything else than chatting with them. We would ask each other millions of questions about our lives, religions, children and what-have-you. Johan in the meantime stayed with the farmer and they shared experiences as well.
The food we got was fantastic, but we had no doubts about that. Nothing compares to fresh and homemade dishes. Yummy! What puzzled us though was that we always ate alone, the women usually ate in the kitchen, the boys in the bedroom in front of the TV and we never saw Kushiram (the farmer) eating, but smoking:
During our stay at the farmhouse I also got some beauty treatments: Henna paintings for my hands – something Indian women are crazy about and I love as well.
It’s been very easy-going and within no time we felt at home and as a part of the family.
When we woke up the next morning we packed up our stuff to be ready for an early departure, we wanted to reach Bhiwani on time, an approximately 70km ride. But the family wouldn’t let us leave without breakfast and we thankfully accepted even though we knew that an early start would no longer be possible. And by the time we were ready to leave they asked us to stay another day because they would like to go with us to the tourist farm – where we got rejected the other evening – to show us Indian village life. We were overwhelmed by so much kindness and hospitality that we happily agreed to stay one more day. Our first rest-day in India.