Yesterday, our group arrived at this couple’s home and began helping me cut up vegetables. The woman would catch my eye and hold up her hand for enough carrots. She shook her head for the peas not to go in yet. Then indicated silently when the peas were added to the pot. She began the clean-up while the this typical Indian dish was cooked.
It surprised me that the husband directed the cooking action. Theo is adding spices. Pam is stirring. Notice the husband has leather shoes.
Ranvir told us that every household that cooks for itself has one of these treasures. Curry, cumin, turmeric, coriander, cardamon, cumin seed, and mustard seed. Sometimes ground cloves, ground cinnamon and basil seed.
Families cook outside in a home-made adobe stove. In the pan goes mustard oil first. The vegetables are carrots, cauliflower, eggplant, red onion, potatoes, peppers and peas. Stir fried first, a bit of water later to steam until done.
The wife cooked the naan on that same stove with a special pan of some kind. Her recipe is millet and water. We all tasted the food by scooping up the vegetables with a piece of naan. Yummy.
The father gave us a tour of his property where he grows most of the food for this extended household. He has guava trees and another tree from which you use the twigs to brush your teeth. I’ve already forgotten the name of it. I carried a branch around with me for two days to see what it was like. It has an alum feel and the broken end of a small branch acts like toothpicks and floss. (Indian people use regular toothbrushes.)
Using well water, one daughter-in-law hand washes clothes. Each married son has his own house and an out-door bathroom with a flush toilet flowing into a common septic system. The toilets and septic system a benefit of Grand Circle. Even though he isn’t as poor as most in this area, Grand Circle want people to adopt better hygiene. If Grand Circle hadn’t stepped in, they would simply use the ground and bury their waste. He sets a modern example for his kids, grandchildren and neighbors around him. Another form of education.
The kids have ample room to run around and play in a clean area. It is typical of older children to help with younger children in Indian families.
Someone made a rustic jungle gym. Strong poles are tied together for the kids to swing and climb upon.
A group picture before we leave. Carol and Kathy hold up samples of the wife’s colorful clothing.
The family bids us goodbye.
They have a cow for milk.
From their long driveway, we see a beautiful girl with a baby. Ranvir speculates that she is probably 15 or 16 years old. Typical age for poor, uneducated girls to marry.
Our next visit in the village is a Women’s Cooperative where we will eat lunch. This woman, Joy, a dietician decided to help one family, and never left India.
These women are from a warrior tribe. Their husbands hunted tigers and leopards and sold the skins illegally. During a government crackdown, they were arrested and imprisoned. With their husbands in jail, these wives had no skills to make a living except prostitution. How would they survive?
At the Cooperative, they learn new skills. This gentleman shows me a block printed bed cover.
We’ve seen how it is done. A student carefully practices on a small square.
Some learn to sew. I buy three pillow covers and a lovely embroidered purse. Prices are a bit higher here than on the street, but still a bargain.
Men help the women, they keep track of the money, some sew and/or maintain the machines and buildings. They also have a flush toilet on the premises.
Illeka is my lunch mate and she teaches me arabic names of food we are eating and I give her the English words. Illeka is talkative and can speak somewhat garbled English and French.
Kathy has her picture taken with the women she bought things from. Illeka indicated she wanted her picture taken with us.
But we misunderstood her. She wanted her picture taken with me with something I bought that she made. She showed me her craft and I obliged by buying this little hat hair pin. She was really sweet and charming.
Tomorrow, we take a long train ride to Bharatpur.