Just outside Pune is a range of small hills on the way to Saswad where we often drive down to get away from the crowded city. So when, after 6 whole days of overcast skies and steady drizzle, it started to rain heavily on Saturday, we decided that we can officially declare monsoon has arrived. And vagabonds as we are, immediately decided to go to those hills on a long drive the next day. Nah ... we did not wait for a little more rain for the hillsides to turn green.
And nature decided to add a little humour to our plans. The next day dawned sunny and bright ... thumbing its nose to us. Not to be put down, we decided to go any way. So after storing up on a lot of munchies we started off.
The hills were barren ... not surprisingly .... and it was hot. But surprisingly the moment we were on the other side and descended to the plains ... the weather was cloudy and the air was cool and moist. We could roll down the windows finally enjoy the pollution free air. The fields on both sides were either being cleaned of the last vegetable harvest or being tilled.
It was our return journey that brought us a surprise. We were driving leisurely when we crossed a field where a farmer and his family were harvesting carrots. Seeing the freshly dug out carrots the cook in me surfaced and I wondered aloud how much will they give us these fresh carrots for .... or will they give us at all? Hubby decided to ask anyway .... and reversed the car. The people looked up from the fields wondering what was going on. I stayed in the car and hubby went down to talk to them.
Once, on one of our trips to Murud, we had asked a lady in a field for a few flowers from a Kaddu (Pumpkin) plant as I am a Bengali and miss eating them. She shooed us away with such vegenance ... yelling something about greedy people who can't wait for a flower to become a vegetable ..... I am still scarred. So hubby went to face the flak ... if any.
Wrong. The people welcomed him. Soon there was much animated conversation going on ... much display of the fresh harvest , much discussions on the weather. After a long while I saw the farmer coming up to the road with hubby and invited me to step out and have a look at his farm and fields. This well was an old timer ... from the time of the Peshwas. There is an entrance on the wall ... which has steps inside and can be entered into to reach the water. We were told that in the dryest of times this well never dried up ... so these people never lacked for water.Then he showed us around ... his fields and his crops. He explained how self sufficient they were .... growing crops like jowar, maize and vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, onions, chillies, palak, methi, coriander ... and lots more.
After a long conversation the farmer invited us back in a fortnight to see the tilling of his land as hubby had a number of questions. And then came the surprise. These simple hardworking people plied us with carrots, chawli and bhutta right off the field. Our offer to pay was smilingly , yet firmly turned down. We did not press too much for fear of offending them. There was so much love and warmth that I was overwhelmed. Hubby sat down with them and showed them the snaps we had clicked. One old lady was surprised tha they could see the snaps so soon ... right there. Our farmer friend had only one request .... he wanted the snap of his cow. We promised to get him a print of every snap on our next visit.
It was getting late and we had to set on our return journey. They too had given us a lot of their valuable time from their work. We were in a trance. So much of goodwill, generosity and warmth had left us at a loss for words. Maybe city life is making us too sceptical, self centred and machinelike.