Wake up at 6, sleep at 11 – that’s 15 hours of activity. During lunch, Nikhil and I were calculating how much of that time goes into food prep, consumption, and clean-up. It turns out that we are spending about 6 hours a day on feeding ourselves. That is, a little less than half our day revolves around the above-mentioned activities. This is why our mothers are always in the kitchen. Those of us that use that time to watch television, stalk people on Facebook, or sit around can’t appreciate what they go through. Cutting, cooking, and cleaning deserve more recognition. Here’s to those homemakers/housewives/househusbands who keep their family’s stomachs happy.
Moving on to something entirely different: we purchased two dolis from Banda. You know, the thick cloth-covered rings one often sees on villagers’ heads. A pot full of water typically rests on this doli which helps to balance the weight of the pot above. As we were heading to the handpump I showed off our new doli to Shanti Bai, Nandram’s wife. She asked her two daughters to accompany us. The girls took their own empty pots and followed us to the pump. Once our pots were filled, Nikhil helped me get my pot on my doli. The walk back was surprisingly strain-free. Nevertheless, I held my pot, now balancing on my head, firmly with both hands. Teenage Jasodha briskly walked by me, clearly in a mood to show off her balancing skills. I jokingly said “Run!” And she did! By the time my cautious self reached the entrance gate Jasodha was sitting with her hands propped up by her hands. A grin covered half her face. I sensed my lack of matka-balancing abilities made her feel important, special. I let her have this moment of glory.
We walked to Jaana’s house in the evening and found her studying. It was an awkward position – we were there to ask her help, but didn’t want to disrupt her exam preparations. Her father, Laaduji, volunteered to accompany us.
Our total tally of households reached 60 today. There are a few more left which we’ll get to tomorrow. The homes we visited today were isolated, a lone cluster on the other side of the main road leading to Baneda. In two of the homes we were given a glass of cow’s milk. Warm, sweet, and thick it filled my stomach quickly. A man in his late 30s told us bluntly that surveys didn’t change anything for people like him. "Every year someone comes from the government and asks us questions. In the end, we still have one undershirt on our backs, not two. The farmer can’t rely on anyone, only God." The idea of questioning authority didn’t strike this man as possible. We asked him, “Did you ask the Sarpanch, ‘What happened to that survey? How did you use it?’” His reply was expected. "What can we ask? Whatever the Lord wills, happens."