- ODO: 6510km
- Location The Forest India
- Weather: 23-36 Clear and hot
Last night was the night I met Shridhar. I’ve made a habit of stopping for a selfie only when I was planning to stop anyway. For a drink or snack or a full lunch. Otherwise, I’d end up never making progress at all. For the first time yesterday afternoon I left the highways and chanced in on some back routes and fate rewarded me. First with sweeping, near silent mountain roads winding through the lush forest, monkeys swinging between branches above. And second because of Shridhar.
With only 45 minutes of sunlight left and not nearly enough water to cook up my pasta I almost didn’t stop when a barefooted, bearded man jumped out of a truck. As I was riding up the hill and away he asked: “would you like to stay with me”. The options were to camp and eat 5-day-old bread and baked beans, rush down to the town on the hope of finding a hotel or accept this generosity. I agreed.
Walking the bike down the road together, then a small track and finally a narrow path between fields I felt no anxiety, just embarrassment at being so dirty as I met the family. Father, mother and two sisters. The house stood as four rooms with a tin stoop supported by thick branches. The house and farm were one. Fields surrounded three walls of the house and up a small track was the barn and larger house with the traditional outside swing.
I washed before eating and watching a few dramas on the satélite tv finishing up with Kabade – a team game that seems to combine wrestling and American football on a tennis sized court – after the first round I still found the rules and points system inscrutable and I drifted into sleep. Right there on the sitting room floor.
The next morning I woke to the sound of sweet little birds, right from the Pixar short, puffing up at each other and bouncing around the foot of the door. Woodsmoke rolled through the connected roofs of the rooms from the kitchen space at the back reminding me of the fires my mum lights at this time of year to heat the autumnal cottage. Only here it never gets below 25 degrees. Again I was served with food and tea as well as some stories and poems Shridhar translated for me from his native Maharashtrian.