Leaving Mumbai behind I have to remind myself of a fantastic food experience we had there. This was the best food we’ve had since the Brother’s Dhaba in Amritsar which served amazing Punjabi food. What a thali this was though! A mix of rajasthani and gujarati food, it consisted of 4 totally different tasty curries, dokra, aloo tikkis, a strangely sweet concoction with pasta in it, 3 separate rice dishes, khichdi, plain rice and rotis drizzled with ghee, shrikhand and gulab jaman for dessert, hot tulsi tea served in clay cups and chaas (coriander, cumin and chilli infused buttermilk). What’s more all this in unlimited quantity! Wah wah!
From Mumbai we took a 12hr train journey to go to Nanded (still in Maharashtra), a town which is only on the map due to a large Sikh temple which exists there.
The train journey was ace! Leaving Mumbai and entering the countryside was the first time at which I have seen an untouched landscape in India – no roads, no farms, no buildings, just nature (and the railway line of course). The afternoon sky was thick with monsoon cloud and the rainfall was relentless. Under the grey of the sky the stark green of the land was almost luminous. The terrain, formed in the manner of an unmade blanket with mounds and folds and creases, was truly throbbing with water having rivers, rivulets and mini waterfalls caressing the land and small trees ornamenting the horizon. I yearned to hop off the train and go for stroll and soak in the beautiful surroundings (figuratively and literally!). Indeed it is probably the seasonal monsoon water flow which gives the land it’s characteristic shape and formation. Anyway, I use many words to describe the beauty where a picture, which sadly I don’t have, would have done the job far better.
There’s not much to say about Nanded other than the Sikh history. The highlight for me was visiting one of the Sikh Gurdwaras which, to me, comes closest to the ideals I associate with a Sikh Gurdwara. It sits on the banks of the river within a nice plot of land suitable for animals and farming, it has a 24hr free kitchen for the benefit of the local village as well as the visiting pilgrims but most of all it felt like a community alive with spirit and not a business devoid of it which is all too often the case.
Here’s a pic of an Akali Nihang Babaji at this gurdwara – an elderly warrior saint sitting there peacefully outside on his chair overlooking the comings and goings of the gurdwara:
We’re now in Pune, also in Maharashtra, since yesterday and thus have the luxury of an internet connection again. We’re here for at least 3 weeks whilst I am doing some singing practice. This gives us a real chance to take stock now that we’re 2 months into our journey and to see what plans we want to make for the remainder of our time in India!