This has been a wonderful start of the New Year. We decided to climb the dungar (hill) which we saw daily from our terrace in Devpur. And instead of riding till the base, we walked a good 4 kilometre before commencing the climb. It was a short and steep climb and we were glad we packed enough oranges.
The hill is home to a shrine of Bheekhu Rishi and temple with Jakh idols. Jakh or Yaksh are local deities said to have arrived at Kuchchh some 600 years ago, following a ship wreck. They landed at Jakhau and hence the name, but it is also said that Jakh is derived from Yaksh meaning divine. Their origin is contested as some accounts trace them to Persia while others to Byzantine Greece.
The Jakhs practiced medicine and did a lot of good to the local people. They are also said to have killed the local tyrant and it is because of all the good work, these horsemen and women were deified. The idol with a horse is popular and visible across Kuchchh. The hill we climbed is in the Saira village named after one of the Jakh women.
I think it was a day of good deeds and great bonds. We were marvelling at the view and contemplating the story, when we heard someone coming up. Soon introductions were made and once we established ourselves as English teachers at the village school, we were rewarded with an instant invitation for tea. His name was Ramesh bhai and he owned a motor garage in the village. He liked coming at the temple once in a while to offer prayers and coconut.
We never really took the invitation seriously. Us city folks always say things we don’t mean. “Let’s meet up for a coffee someday”, or “Why don’t you come over for dinner sometime”. Both the speaker and the listener know that someday and sometime may not come at all. Not our Ramesh bhai though. He gave a clear set of directions to reach his home.
While he sped off back to the village on his bike, we started walking. We were taking our sweet time and were still in two minds about following up on the invitation. Soon as we entered the village, here was our good man. He intercepted us on our way and took us to his lovely home. We had one of the best teas in a long time and some much needed snacks.
They asked us all sorts of questions but nothing felt nosy. It is how the village life works. No amount of inquisitiveness is rude. We were shown around the house and were asked to move in with them in their spare terrace room, if we wanted to.
It doesn’t fail to touch me, this simple culinary bond that exists in India, especially our villages. This was another such overwhelming experience after the FossilPark.
We hope to see him and have that ginger-tea again.