Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Jeoli Good Times

Have you ever set out on a holiday with complete misgivings? Wondering if the men will disagree, worse still - agree to speed, will the sisters kill each other, the mother fret, the father fume, the roads turn into serpents, the destination into a bhoot bangla?

Did that sound neurotic? Well the mother fret may have something to do with it.

It was October 2004; the boys were dressed as though they were going camping in the Berkshires! We set out for a 6-hour journey, replete with several layers of food and the misgivings mentioned above. But we had to stop for aloo paranthas right? Which the only Punjabi refused to eat - the expression on his face – “who eats this kind of hick food huh!”

We arrived in Jeolikote - actually Jeolikote popped right out, close to sundown. The Berkshire campers unloaded their oh so urban bags at the Cottage ! We were greeted by a tall gentleman who gave us the ‘look over”. Which was explained later.

Many bundts & several cups of tea later, the six degrees of separation theory was proven yet again , and we settled in, further charmed by the gracious hostess . In the ensuing conversations she did mention that she has "Bauju" (the tall gent who greeted us initially) give her guests the look over. If you were from Karol Bagh, or from the "Gurgaon", and wore a handlebar moustache, or blared music, or Anokhi is an alien and rare word in your world - the gent would probably turn you away with a genteel yet steely "niet". Turns out the gent is also responsible for the awesome kebabs served at dinner - attributed to an old rajput recipe, where the meat is ground by hand and reduced to pulp. Now you see why the adjective "steely ".

Needless to say, some of us were extremely gratified that we had passed the test and the bond had been established - since there really are no suitable places to spend the night unless you count the tea stalls. Or the liquor store.

The weekend passed by - not without its hiccups. There was the loony father looking for his "joba" flowers everywhere. Some of us were put on the job to search. Others had enough of the wives & outlaws & escaped to the river down below. They returned several hours later, with A. looking very flushed. His wife jumped on him - "you were drinking without me”! He responded with a bunch of flowers that closely resembles large ocean lilies. We hastily put them away in our rooms, rather pleased with the men.

Till the gracious hostess emerged and exclaimed "Dhatura, the nightshade, its poison!" At which point A paled, the flush gone forever, and said, "I sucked the nectar, it tastes pretty good". Not a surprise - given that it is a hallucinogen!

The neurotic mother fretted further, the hostess gave her enough competition! Fortunately it had a sobering effect on A - which is not a bad thing if you know him!

The rest of the weekend passed by without any further disasters. Unless you count the father asking a gentleman from Ghaziabad , "so tell me , why do you live there? " Who lives in Ghaziabad! The visit to Sat tal & the neighbouring lakes was really quite awe spiring. The evenings were spent by a fire on the terrace of the cottage with D consuming most of the old monk. She does her teetotaler father proud! My guess is she wants to be Irish!

On our way home we figured we had chastised A enough for the Dhatura drinking incident. So we turned our attention to U & barraged him with questions - what were you doing? Why didn't you stop him? what were you thinking?

He stared at us for a bit, rather nonplussed, let the volley of questions go by and responded with " There was a passing stream. A man's gotta do what he's gotta do!

Sat Tal & Jeolikote, India, 2004 Posted by Hello

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