Once upon a time in India

What I remember of my life in India has mostly disappeared. There is hardly anything that I still recognize. My friends and I use to ride our bikes for hours through every nook and cranny of Ahmedabad. Now those places are stuffed with apartment buildings, shops, and malls. I am happy to see the progress but I am sad to see my childhood landmarks erased. It’s bitter sweet.
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Today, my sister and I decided to take a short day trip away from the city to our Farm/Village, Bidaj. Growing up, we use to come here often with our parents to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. My grandfather (dad’s dad) who grew up in this Village is sort of a celebrity here. Although not a rich man, he committed a lot of his time and money to update Bidaj’s infrastructure, build a school, rebuild a temple, etc. His sons including my dad have continued the tradition.

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Our plan was to visit the school, the temple, our old house, and then drive back before noon.  When we arrived at the school, the principal had bigger plans. Instead of letting us just walk around and see the place, he called an impromptu assembly to introduce the granddaughters of the man whose name the school bears. My sister who is a teacher in North Carolina was asked to speak and she did a phenomenal job considering she hadn’t planned for this. I added my two cents at the end, but mostly I hide in the corner taking lots of pictures.

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We then took the single lane road to the temple. As a child I remember using their information chalk board for my own play, swimming in the pond behind the temple, and climbing trees in the compound. My cousins and I use to run around here and venture out to the fields to see if we could find a snake or two. Our moms let us run wild; something they could never do in the city.

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In a small village like this news spreads fast. So while I was still walking around reminiscing, a couple of people who had known my grandfather came over to invite us over for tea. We were very short on time, I was ready to say “no thanks”, but my sister couldn’t dare to say no. It would have been too rude. So she smiled and said yes; I mumbled a few words under my breath as I followed them into their house. I was worrying about getting back in time to finish the rest of the shopping but as soon as we all started talking and drinking the masala tea, I forgot that we were in a rush. I finished my tea on the swing on the porch. I sipped the hot tea while waving to the people walking by with their herds of cows, goats, etc. This was surreal.  Too many people have asked me if I would consider moving back to India. My answer has been a firm no. I tell them I can’t get use to the lifestyle here anymore (more on this later) and more importantly I am too anti-social to live in a community that thrives on constant social interaction. However, I found myself reconsidering my answer as I was finishing my tea in Bidaj. I could see our old house from the porch, I could see cows roaming in the pastures, I could hear the birds chirping, and although it was a 110 degrees outside, I felt so calm and peaceful.

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I shared my porch moment with my sister on our way back. I told her I would like dad to open up the house again so I can live here for a few months. The village had ample dirt trails for me to run; I could volunteer at the school; I would learn how to cook from the village women; I could learn a thing or two about farming; I could get a cow.  She of course laughed out loud and blamed my moment on being light headed from the 110 degree heat. She’s probably right, but still, it’s such an exciting idea.

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Chika Gujarathi is a freelance writer and a mother of three from Raleigh, NC. She writes for national and local publications about lifestyle, travel, books, and of course, motherhood! Her most current project involves illustrating and publishing a children’s Hindi book. When not adventuring with her family in the minivan, you can find her riding the streets of Raleigh on her beloved bike Linus.

2 thoughts on “Once upon a time in India

  1. I think it certainly would be an exciting idea and a cool thing to be able to spend a month or two in a place like this. You can camp out in the back yard every day…can't get better than that!!!

    Like

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