We have been showered with generous and unexpected kindness during our explorations here in Kutch. Complete strangers have opened their homes and kitchens to us with the warmth of family members. These are incidences that have touched me more than the awe-inspiring sights of the region. And I feel I need to mention them especially to counter the cynicism that has crept amongst us about travelling within India.
During our first week here, when we were still trying to understand the culture and customs of the place, we visited the Kuchchh Fossil Park. It is a magnificent feat achieved by a single man to collect and curate the fossils found in the region. But that is for a different story, for another post maybe. Sadly, we weren’t able to meet the man but were greeted by the caretaking staff of the place.
After the tour, while we were silently contemplating our food options (we were nowhere near a roadside dhaba or a dabeli stall), the caretaker lady offered us lunch at her home. There were lehsun chutney and gur with rotlas that flew right out of her chulha in our thalis. She made us eat before eating herself like mothers do and then packed several days worth of wild ber for our trip. This was my first brush with Kuchchh hospitality outside the comfort zone of Devpur where we are volunteering. And that simple meal really made us one of them for rest of our days in Kuchchh. Our inhibitions – from asking directions, opinions, stories to food and shelter – have lowered as we continue to explore this beautiful region.