Kutch

By the end of monsoon, I ventured out to a dusty little village attached to the hills in the far western India. Boys and girls, men and women dressed differently and did different things than their urban counterparts.

They wore pathani suits in beautiful shades of raw green, baby pink and marvellous mauve. The women wore lehenga cholis with heavily embroidered chest covering the design of which differed for an unmarried girl. The children, both male and female played board games and rock throwing, siting in the sandy bylanes.

The cars this year don’t bother the children who have seen them last year. But new kids are always a little curious. Like bunches of camels with their high necks and sandy color, these children — their cheeks burnt copper in the sun — gave long but bored looks at the vehicles passing by before returning to their games. Unlike kids in the rest of the country, they are not on social media.

One old gypsey woman called me names. nice names. She said you are the daughter of a millionaire — now give me some money. I gave her the mawa I was told to have by our enthusiastic driver, Anwar. Mawa is the poison of diabetics. Sugar is its main ingredient.

Next to India’s border with Pakistan, for the pastoralist Maldhari, the staple is often sweet stuff like mawa, because they help you retain energy in the killing sun. But they also like tea, milky sugary tea made with camel milk, if you are lucky. Or else, cows are aplenty.

To be continued..