Today’s post is courtesy of my dear, dear friend, Kriti. A few months back Kriti revisited her home in state of Uttarakhand. Ever since she told me about her grandmother’s house up in the hills, overlooking the Himalayas, I’ve wanted to talk about it on the blog, and of course some day visit it. You’ll see why.
Like me, Kriti moved around quite a bit while growing up – the first of many common things our friendship has grown on. Her family roots are based in the scenic state of Uttarakhand but all the moving around and settling down in south India (Bangalore) has made it difficult for her to visit home. Until this year, 10 years later.
Kriti’s paternal grandparents have a house in the district of Bageshwar. It’s where she and her siblings spent almost every summer, and winter. Reading Harry Potter on the terrace, doing household chores in exchange for candy from her grandmother, sitting by oil lamps when the electricity was out and walking through the fields with her grandmother – when Kriti tells me about these memories, it sounds like it’s been taken right out of children’s book.
For the past two years, the house has been shut. This year, more than a year after Kriti’s grandmother passed away, the house was reopened. She said the people of her village all came together to help set up the house again. Just thinking about it puts a smile on my face.
The house, she says, has wooden doors and the steps leading up to it are painted red using a mixture of rice, saffron and clay, called aipad. It represents goodwill and wealth, so that all who enter the house are blessed.
Then there’s all the magic of rural life – a life I have never experienced having always grown up in the city. Kriti says living in the village means there’s a lot of different things to experience – the smell of pine trees on misty mornings, rows of mango trees loaded with fruit waiting to be plucked, streams of fresh water running from the Himalayas, walking through the fields and eating fresh fruits and vegetables growing right around you and climbing up and down hills all the while making sure you don’t slip on fallen pirul (pine) leaves. Amidst all that, is the constant buzz of women chatting in the local language, Kumaoni. Kriti says their banter doesn’t fade late into the night. The village is alive in a way I am yet to learn about.
Just as she’s come far from her childhood days, the village is urbanizing in essential ways – better supply of electricity and water, well constructed roads and DTH in every house. Fortunately, Kriti says education for kids become a priority for many families in the village.
Kriti’s house is in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, which is closer to the Nepal border. And this is my favourite part when she talks about home – the view of the Himalayas from her village.
When Kriti talks about watching the Himalayas during sunset or sunrise, how the clouds graze over the snow capped mountains, I cannot help but feel pangs of jealousy. At the same time, I am elated at the thought that I might get a chance to visit that house and village, soon. I know I would be a happy guest.