11.10 am, Valvand-
After camping at Udhewadi village, we reach a village named Valvand. In the search of a dhaba, we meet an old lady who is out for rearing cattle. Upon enquiring, she invites us to her house to have lunch. She tells us that there is no electricity in the village and hence it will take some time to prepare the food which is cooked on firewood. She would cook rice, roti, mashed potatoes, and dal for us. We happily agree to the deal.
The house is a typical rural house made up of mud and a thatched roof. The walls are made up of bamboo and cow manure that makes it strong and opaque. The floor is cleaned with cow dung and it is surprisingly cool in contrast to the hot weather outside.
The chickens and cat are moving freely in the house. The room is dark as I make way to the kitchen to strike up a conversation. The lady claims to be more than 60 years old. She lives with her husband and earns a living by selling tobacco products and sometimes serving food to the guests like us. She has 3 sons and 2 daughters who have settled in the cities. “What will they do here? There is no source of income in the village,” she explains. The village lies in the rocky terrain of the Sahyadris and hence farming is rare in this region. The food materials are supplied from the nearby town and most of the villagers have cattle to depend on the milk and meat products.
Tea is prepared as we exchange our lifestyles. She suggests us to visit the nearby lake and take a bath by the time she prepares our meal. But we have given up to the bucolic life of the village. We find ourselves comfortable in the verandah as we lie down on the mat observing the rural life. An old man opposite to the house is sitting under the tree lighting up a bidi. To our right is the mountain shining in different shades of green. The herd of cows passes through the narrow lane in front of the house. A young guy has come to the house asking for a cigarette. By the time he leaves, we are lulled by the chirping birds and the cool breeze and fall asleep in the lap of Mother Nature.
Our sleep is disrupted by the voice of another customer calling the aunty. It seems like we were asleep for a very long time. My friend checks his mobile which tells us it’s only a quarter to noon. We share the same look of surprise and can’t help laughing.
I peep into the kitchen to check for the meal. The smell of freshly cooked rice is gradually taking over the entire house and the bubbling sound confirms that the rice is almost ready.
I heave a sigh of relief as I lay down gazing at the sky. The birds are still floating above and the world still seems to match the pace of my breathing!
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