Trip to a village on outskirts of Delhi
Six of my wife’s colleagues and I set out in Innova to a village in Delhi’s outskirts in the early winter morning. It took us 1.5 hours of travelling through highways, expressways, and village roads to reach our destination. We had reached the house of one of the warmest hosts I have seen my whole life. Naina, one of my wife’s colleague, had invited us to her home. As our Innova reached to a halt, we came out to be greeted by two ladies who were soon joined by a gentleman. I was first to come out of the car and since introduction hadn’t happened yet, I didn’t know who were who. One of the ladies was sporting bright red salwar, a white kurta soiled from household chores, and a chunni tied to her head as a scarf. She greeted us effusively, hugged us with motherly affection and grabbed our arm with her firm hands. I had just met Naina’s mother, our hostess for the day. The other lady was her Mausi and the gentleman was our host, his father. As we came to the courtyard we met her Daadi. She was in her later 70′s but was equally warm and affectionate. I had only read about the hospitality of village folks, but from their reception it was clear that I was going to witness one for real.
The word ‘village’ conjures up many images in our mind — I can see a house made with mud, an old man dressed in white attire smoking hukkah, and a vast agricultural land in the background. But this was nothing of sort. We were actually standing in an architecturally and aesthetically built three storey house, adorned with extensive Sheesham woodwork and a backyard of its own. And our hosts were highly educated professional — Naina’s father is a PhD and Principal at School while her mother is a teacher in girl’s school. Our hosts had planned for our trip. We were going to have our breakfast followed by a tour to the village and back for the lunch.
Breakfast was laid out in the courtyard next to a huge kitchen. We were going to sit on the floor and have our meal. Food was placed centrally on the carpet with stools all around. It took me a while to figure out that stools were for laying out the dishes and we were going to sit next to it to have our food. And what a breakfast it was! We had aaloo paratha with lots of white butter. Everything was home made and served with warmth.
After our breakfast we were all full. I knew that aunt had made lot of preparation for our lunch and I was embarrassed to think that I had no space left for any more food. So when we were debating to take car or go on foot for our village tour, we equivocally decided to go on foot. We went to see the village temple, water supply system, crop fields, agricultural research centre, a newly setup aayurveda based hospital. We plucked gooseberry from the tree and munched on our fresh pluck.
After walking for about 4–5 km, we reached in time for lunch. Walking had worked on our appetite. We were treated with a fulsome lunch — We had jowar and makai ki roti, sarsoo ki saag, kheer, kajar ka halwa, paneer ki sabji and chutneys.
After lunch we chatted with the family. Daadi told stories from the day and we chatted on current educational scenario in India. Daadi gave us married folks aashirwadi and a diary to each of us. As we said goodbye and set out for our trip back home, I couldn’t help think if this was the warmest family that I have ever meet in my life. It certainly was.