Saturday, January 5, 2008

Adventure 3: Our Family’s Village (What?) Called Pali

As it so turns out, near the city of Bulandshahr there is a village. Now get this – it’s my mom’s mom’s mom’s mom’s (yes, that’s 4 “mom”s) village. My mom’s mom’s mom’s brother still lives there, and he’s still alive and well! When we left in the morning from my uncle’s house in Noida, it was me, my mom, my mom’s sister and her son, and my grandma (mom’s side). We drove to Bulandshahr (a two-hour or more drive) and stopped at my mom’s cousin’s house. There, I met my uncle Rahul Sharma (my Grandma’s maiden name was Sharma) and his wife and daughter (his son is currently studying somewhere abroad). Also there was my grandma’s brother and his wife. He is such an interesting person. Since it was because of my interest that we were making this trip, he took a special interest in me. He kept showing me family heirlooms and the like, but I remained fascinated the whole time. This was a rare opportunity! He showed me a picture of his dad (who is also my grandma’s dad), who is my great grandfather. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! I am his direct descendant. So his wife’s village is where we were going. And the coolest thing is that her brother is still alive and apparently doing well! But that’s how villages go, I guess. Everyone is in shape from working in the fields. Of course, the members of my family, since they are the leaders of the village, don’t work in the fields anymore… They are more of the overseers of everything.

Pali is a village on the outskirts of Bulandshahr, in Bulandshahr District in the state of Uttar Pradesh, inhabited by the nicest people I have ever met. We left Noida at around 9:00 AM and reached Bulandshahr at approximately 11:00 AM. We ate snacks, and then picked up my grandma’s brother and my cousin (my mom’s cousin’s daughter) Anu. Then when we left Bulandshahr it was about noon. We arrived in Pali at around 1:00 PM and were greeted by a mass of people, who apparently are all my blood relatives! I was thrilled to meet all of them, still in disbelief that it was all my family. I would explain my relation to all of them, but I can’t even remember what they are! But to make a long story short, they are all descendents of my mom’s mom’s mom and her brother. Which makes us all kin. There were SIX GENERATIONS of family members there. Can you believe that? Just imagine.

I drank more chai over this trip than I ever have in my life combined! Anyways, first we were escorted to the original house of my mom’s mom’s mom’s mom. Throughout the visit, I was in disbelief about my relation to this village. I mean, I am a direct descendent of the original inhabitants of the village! OK enough babbling. (I’m only saying all this because I’ve never been to a real village before, so everything was completely new to me… I hope you understand). Let me make a quick note about the house itself. The house was made of clay and brick, with lighting only made possible by the sun. It was one story, the floor of which was swept with cow dung, straight from the cattle of the farm! The dung is called “gober” (pronounced GO-brr), and is used as fuel for everything. You will see them harvesting it in the shape of 1ft-diameter discs (or maybe bigger) for later use. What an interesting system! These people are so close to nature. I knew I would like it here…

After eating lunch at my great great grandma’s house, we went to tour the fields. My grandma’s brother, his mom’s brother, and I went for a walk together in the fields where they showed me the crops they were growing and the different activities that were going on. Pali has its own school, which competes with schools of other villages in sports. I was amazed at the amount of land that our family has in the village! It was a great experience touring their fields. We saw trees of all sorts, animals I’ve never even heard of before, and I even got to harvest potatoes! (I’ll put pictures up). We reached a field of sugarcanes, where my cousins taught me how to eat it. At first it was difficult, but I got the hang of it quickly (you literally have to peel the hard outer layer off with your teeth) and after that I ate so much sugarcane it’s not even funny! It tasted so good that I never wanted to stop. My cousins told me that that’s what they do to pass time. I mean, your stomach fills up, it tastes really good, your teeth become stronger, and the time passes by! What a good time! Anyways, I can’t think of any more to write about this particular trip… the rest of it was just fun fun fun (after the sun went down we went to sleep… around 8:00 PM! But we were so tired that it only made sense to sleep. When we woke up it was time to go).

We then dropped back off my grandma’s brother and my cousin and headed back home. Our next trip is to Kashmir!


Anonymous said...

Ahhh village life ... very unique and lovely. DUDE I MISS YOU.

mary said...

varun this sounds so amazing. wish i was there!!!

love, mary