Thursday, October 27, 2011

Brothers from Different Mothers

Before tearing ourselves away from our wonderful friends in Ashoknagar, we squeezed in a few more adventures that I didn't have room to mention in the last blog. I could go on forever, noting all of the week's highlights, but here are just a few more....

When we first arrived at Bina Station, we were warmly greeted by Raj and a jubilant Rabu and Rohan. Vikramjit (or, "Driverjit") was parking the luxurious SUV they had borrowed from friends for our comfort. It was so great to see their smiling, familiar faces. After a small snack and some chai we headed back down the long, long road to Ashoknagar. Being monsoon season, the rains had washed away the main roads and we were left with the bumpy, pot-hole ridden back farm roads for our three hour journey. It was our first of what would be many adventures on Madhya Pradesh's 'bone-shaking' roads. It was so great to see them, and we had so much catching up to do, that we barely noticed when our bags bounced off the seats or when our heads came dangerously close to the ceiling. Being the wonderful, generous people that they are, Vikramjit, Raj and the kids had endured a three hour journey, in the monsoon rains to pick us up and we then turned around and did the whole thing all over again!

We can't say enough about wonderful everyone in Ashoknagar was, and how warmly we were welcomed everywhere we went. It was always more like a home-coming than an introduction. We drank the best chai (multiple times a day) and snacked on the most tastey home-made Indian snacks at every stop along the way. Everyone wanted to have us over for tea (which was always accompanied by enough snacks to be considered a meal) or a full official meal (after which we would literally have to be rolled out of the dining room). Even when our hosts who had invited us over for tea, didn't speak much English, we were made to feel like honoured guests. Of all the wonderful chai (and I had a lot- I'm a little obsessed, I admit), Raj's chai was my absolute favourite. 'Raj Mahal' we called it, as Raj only use the very best black tea leaves made by the 'Taj Mahal' tea company. Oh how I miss Raj Mahal. This is the chai dreams are made of. Chai, not tea. There is a difference. And a secret recipe- which I have.

And the food. Wow, these people can cook. Seriously, the food we packed in (literally) in Ashoknagar was by far the best food we ate in our entire time in India and, probably our favourite food of the entire year. I would go into detail, describing the spectacular flavours and magical combinations, but then I would just start drooling all over our computer...and the keyboard is already misbehaving, so I won't.

Not only were Vikramjit, Raj and their family and friends wonderful chai experts and talented chefs, they were also some of the most generous people we have ever met. So generous, in fact, that over the course of a week we somehow managed to accumulate many, many thoughtful gifts which we will be able to proudly show off once we get home! I personally, can't wait to wear my beautiful suits, scarves, bangles, watch and 'floaters'! Memories of a wonderful week in Ashoknagar. We are very lucky.

Another fun event that I wanted to mention, as you may have already seen the great photos, was the day that Vikramjit put Jonathan's hair in a turban. It was really, great fun, and so entertaining to see everyone's reaction when we went around to visit. I didn't know until that day that the cloth used to tie the turban was so huge! The size of a queen-size sheet! It takes two people to stretch the cloth out and fold it perfectly to prepare it for wrapping. Before all this, though, you have to set the beard. To say trying to tame Jonathan's beard was something new to that bristly red
mass of chin hair would be the understatement of the year. I half expected the Irish in his beard to revolt to such an idea. But with a tightly tied bandana secured around his chin and tied on top of his head, and a little (ok, alot) of hairspray, J's beard morphed from an unruly, overgrown mess to an orderly, shapley 'work of art' (he claims). The turban itself is the real masterpiece. Vikramjit pained until every fold was perfect and every corner was in its place. It was really quite impressive to watch. When J and his turban were all set, he and Vikramjit posed for a photo. 'Like brothers from different mothers!' Raj and I exclaimed.

A special thank you goes out to Vikramjit, Raj, India's Future Model, the Eating Machine, Mommy Jit, Pradish, Mr. & Mrs. Sandhu, Sandeep, Sykhdeep, Abijeet, Mr.& Mrs. Ram and their family. It was truly an honour to be your guests in Ashoknagar.

ps. The picture in which J looks like the love child of Chewbacca and Princess Leia is the result of his hair being tied in the turban all day- Hilarious!!

pps. Happy birthday, Looch!!! Hope you're having a great time in Vancouver! Happy b-day, Jane!


Mom and Dad Mooney said...

If that's how your hair looks when it's set - can you please get a hair cut and leave it unset! The beard can stay as long as you trim it! Sounds like you have made some awesome life long friends. Looking forward to the day when they can come to Canada.

Anonymous said...

Wow - you are just having the best of times aren't you? I hesitate to say it Jonathan but you actually quite suit the turban!
Enjoy the rest of your trip and we'll see you in December...yipee!
A Eileen and U Trevor