I slept late, after waking up every time I turned over in the night. Breakfast was at 09.30hrs and I was called for just as I was getting dressed – so good timing. Strangest breakfast I’ve ever had: first there was the usual chopped red onion, tomato and lime juice (served with just about every meal), then scrambled egg, mildly spiced with lots of chopped veg in, then a dahl type gravy, with peas and pulses and a lot of ‘bombay mix’ crunchy biscuit thrown on top – all served with the fluffy white rolls. I enjoyed it. The spicy sweet milky tea that Mon adores was served to finish the meal – and I’ve been getting used to it, though it’s very sweet.
After breakfast I read in the garden. There are at least 14 other folk staying here so that’s a lot of washing up. I noticed 4 of the other guests setting up what looked like a small square card table across the other side of the garden. This table had a shiny surface and holes in the corner with nets, like a tiny pool or billiard table. My curiosity got the better of me and I went across to get a closer look. They were playing “Caroom” – a kind of cross between pool and tiddlywinks. There are several wooden pieces that look exactly like draughts arranged in the centre of the table – one red and the rest black and white. The table is ‘lubricated’ with boric powder, which looks like talc but has no odour and is smoother, I think. A plastic ‘puck’ is flicked with thumb and/or fingers to hit the other pieces, trying to get them in the corner hole (like pool). If you pocket the ‘queen’ – the red piece – then you have to follow this with one of your own pieces. If you fail to pocket one of your own, the red queen gets returned to the centre of the table. The puck always gets moved to a line in front of the player before every move – it can be placed anywhere along that line, as long as its touching it. You play in pairs – with your partner sat opposite. After watching a game, I was urged to play. OOer. I managed a couple of fluke lucky pockets but then was useless – more because I couldn’t get the hang of an accurate flick. I had a good idea of where I was supposed to be aiming the puck but couldn’t get it to obey me. Game is over when your team pockets all its colour, including the queen. I bowed out after losing a couple of games – despite a very skilled partner.
It’s lovely here and I feel very lucky and privileged to peek into Indian life as a guest of Krutali holidays.
I blogged a little and then went to sleep for a few hours after lunch (fried multigrain ‘atta’, and chicken in a spicy gravy served with chutney and the usual onion, tomato and cucumber). Woke at 6pm to a knocking at the door – the rest of the guests had left to go back to work in Mumbai, so I was being ‘upgraded’! I was moved to a room downstairs with a bed in it, still with a firm mattress, but softer than a futon on the floor. I said it wasn’t necessary – I was quite happy with my little room upstairs, but the family thought it was. I am introduced to Amit and his wife – the brother of the two sisters who run Krutali holidays. He has two girls – the oldest of whom is 12yrs old today.
I rummage through my bag to find a suitable gift – the multi-coloured pencil Dragan gave me in Ohrid, and the flannel and handcream Mon gave me are quickly wrapped up – thank goodness I didn’t throw away the wrapping paper! I paint a butterfly birthday card. After dark we gather for the ceremony.
There is a table with the cake placed on set up in the middle of the garden decorated with a ‘Happy Birthday’ banner and balloons. One special balloon filled with flower petals is hung above. A candle is placed in each corner of the cake. Radhika emerges dressed up in her very best Shalwar Kameez – she looks stunning and very grown up. Her little sister is also dressed up in green silk – everyone is dressed up and the garden is lit with fairy lights. WE all sing happy birthday (English version) and she blows the candles out. Then big aunty comes around with water and a candle and anoints Daddy and daughter – a red bindi and a grain of rice pressed into the centre. Amit says this a Western and Eastern fusion. The cake is cut and Daddy feeds the rest of his family and himself with it. I note he eats much of it himself (one for you, one for me, one for you and another for me!). Presents are opened – Radhika gets a quilling set from her family and she seems pleased with the present from me. She also gets money, which her mother takes care of.
I try to pay for the extra night several times – (that night and the next morning) but am refused. Thank you folks! I also have a message from Steve to say I’m solvent again, but to go careful. Well, at this rate, that shouldn’t be too much of a problem!