So off late I have taken to cycling quite regularly, especially since its winter and its pleasant to be riding knowing the sun is mild and its not too hot. We tried last week to beat our previous best of 94km ride, so we went cycling on the interior routes of Bharuch avoiding all traffic.
I am not writing to boast that we actually did over a 100 kms on cycle, but actually about the experience we had whilst visiting a small village on our way. We had been cycling through smaller villages, which are not too cut off from the city way of life and yet they are in their own world. So whenever we stopped at any place for refreshments or tea in a village it was kind of natural to attract attention. Whilst most of these people ply on their cycles they do look at our fancied MTB’s with a little more intrigue. It always makes for interesting conversations. They are fascinated that we cycled so far from our city on our bikes and then the obvious questions about the gears in the bike and the price of the cycle and whether these geared cycles run too fast or run without any effort.
Usually to have around 5-7 people around us asking and talking is normal, we are quite used to it and we infact love the attention. We get water refilled promptly, people offering cold water from their jugs or anywhere etc.
This time round we reached one small village Malkinpura as we took a sudden turn just because we thought the road looked smooth. This was to be our return point and so we stopped at one small shop which actually looked like the only shop around to ask if we could get some tea. The guy said no tea shop here, we could get it a further 5 kms further where a slightly bigger village was. We kind of stalled there refilled our bottles and actually bought a packet of biscuit and chips to munch on and we got talking with the locals. One gentleman then suddenly offered us to go to his house for tea.
We refused politely but the guy said come on, its no big deal and that we must have tea and go since we had cycled so far from Bharuch to his village, around 50kms. We did want to drink tea and so we were not hard to tempt. He asked us to leave the cycles at the village centre and to walk with him to his house. We walked about 10 mins to his house and when we reached we were worried if it was a wise idea to leave the bikes so far away. Surely no one would take them away but people would surely fiddle around with them.
Anyways, once at his house the guy, probably in his 70’s asked someone inside his house to bring us tea as we settled on the verandah of his house, he insisted we come inside but we resisted saying it was cooler outside. When on the verandah when one of my friend kind of lied on the floor, immediately our host said why not sleep on the cot (charpai) which was inside his house, when we refused he brought a pillow for my friend. Slightly embarrassed yet mildly amused we kept looking at each other smiling and laughing and talking to our host. The simplicity of these village folks and their willingness to welcome a total stranger was amazing. When we got to talking, we learnt he was a Patel and when the tea came the guy also brought one Papdi (a kind of papad) that the Patel’s are famous for. When we did mention that Patel’s make awesome khichdi he asked us to hang around and rest for lunch whilst his wife would make khichdi! All without a moments hesitation and sort of overwhelming us all. We said we had to go back and that we couldnt eat a heavy lunch as we wanted to cycle back. Infact he took a promise from us that we would come back someday just to eat khichdi at his house!
We were amused and happy and also overwhelmed at how welcoming the guy was, wondering if we city folks would ever be like this. We even get pissed off when people we know come to our house unannounced and here this guy who didnt know us was so welcoming. Over all it was a humbling experience.
That is our gracious host with my friend Jay.
The simplicity of the life in villages is still so much more better than how we city breds live isn’t it? Can you think of finding a random stranger in the city, bring him home and feed them tea?!