KAPOORS ON THE ROAD
After a very quiet first week in Nagpur while we waited for Anil to recover from the strange virus that laid him low, we were thrilled to be invited to visit the farmhouse of the Aggarwals, friends of Manju and Kamal. There were several couples coming along and each was bringing a contribution for lunch. We left in the late morning and drove the fifteen kilometres to the lovely rural setting. As it turns out, the Aggarwals have developed several properties in the area, selling off most of them and keeping one for themselves. The development reminds me of some of the acreages outside of Sherwood Park, a satellite community of Edmonton.
As you can see from the photographs I have taken, the farmhouse is lovely. They have furnished it with rough-hewn furniture and traditional-style fabrics. The view of the lawn to the man-made lake is so refreshing. Nagpur is known as the Orange City as it is the centre of the orange growing region (we are almost bursting from eating so many of the delicious oranges) and as expected, the climate is hot and dry. There are few green spaces to be seen, the few that do exist are there because of extensive irrigation. Many people like Manju and Kamal have small lawns and potted plants but these require the attention of a mali (gardener) on a daily basis. Only those households with the resources to employ a mali are able to enjoy a green lawn, so Nagpur is really only a green city during the monsoon season.
We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the terrace and then it was announced that a game of "housie" would start shortly and anyone interested in playing should quickly purchase their cards. I had been introduced to housie the night before when we went to the Club for an evening out. Housie is much like the bingo except that the cards have seven columns and only three rows. The numbers range from one to ninety and are called out in the same way as in bingo. There are prizes for getting all the numbers in a row (one of three rows), getting all the numbers in the four corners of the card and of course, for getting all the numbers on your card (full-house). There are other variations as well, such as Super Seven. This entails being the first person to get any seven numbers on the card.
I had done miserably the night before at the Club, although two members of our group won prizes. However, much to my delight - and embarrassment - I won three of the first prizes to be won that afternoon. I won the Super Seven first - 50 rupees, then the four corners - another 50 rupees, and finally the top row - a final 50 rupees. Everyone was a good sport, they put it down to beginner's luck. I assured them that I would use my winnings to pay for my internet time to post all the photos that I had taken of them and write about the experience. Everyone seemed pleased with this suggestion and many gave me their email address so that I could add them to my "Friends" list on the trip journal.
I have included three photos of Madhu Seth's outfit she wore to the picnic. I continue to be fascinated with all the fabrics in India and I especially love to see all the creative designs used in the three-piece outfits that were originally a Punjabi form of dress, but is now worn throughout India. The top is a loose tunic with slits on the side and is worn over a choice of different trouser styles. Madhu was wearing the churridar pajama style - the leg is close-fitting and very long so that it bunches at the ankles and resembles the large ankle bracelets called churries. There is also a very loose style of pajama called a salwar; it is snug at the ankles so that the fabric does not touch the ground. The third article that completes the outfit is a chunni or dupatta, which is a shawl that is worn across the shoulders. The fabrics used display an amazing array of colours and prints and it is here that Indian designers really shine. I find I am always watching the women pass on the street so that I can see the different combinations in the three pieces of these otherwise simple outfits. The traditional shoes have recently become very popular and Madhu kindly allowed me to photograph hers to show how well they finished off her ensemble.
Housie was followed up by a game of cricket out on the lawn. The Mehras (Kamal, Bunty and his son Ankit), along with Anil, had a great time. I practiced taking pictures of people moving at great speed, well at least they liked to think they were fast. Plenty of laughs all round and some good photos too. As the light began to fade, we loaded the full bellies and tired bodies into the cars and headed back to Nagpur. A great way to spend a Sunday afternoon.