We drove to Bhilwara where Ma was waiting at the train station. Hugs. Wide smiles. Surreal. Very, very surreal.
For a ten-day trip she had more than enough baggage, most of which was our many requests from the US, Land of Material Plenty. Ma and I took the bus to Baneda while Nikhil followed on the Honda. We dropped off the bulkiest bags at Shantaji's and welcomed Ma to our Kheda an hour later.
Comparing her first day to ours it seemed she got more attention from the villagers. I supposed we're old news now, and her arrival was the exciting news everyone was talking about. Children and women flocked to our veranda, not saying much, just staring at this creature from "the city". The obnoxiously rambunctious were unusually shy. Even Buaji stayed for at least an hour, beating her past record of five minutes on the veranda. Ma wasn't exactly thrilled being the center of attention, but she handled it like a true sport.
Last week we received an invitation to attend - get ready- Chunnilal's daughter's husband's brother's wedding. While Ma slept off her jetlag Nikhil and I stopped by Kalyanpura where the community dinner was taking place. Recalling my last (diarrhetic) experience at a community dinner I resolved not to eat any of the fried puri and lapsi. The hosts were not satisfied with our refusal. They packed our sweet daliya and fried puris during our goodbyes. Despite the prospects of an upset stomach, the to-go meal later became Nikhil and Ma's dinner.
After study-hour with the kids we called it a night. Ma was already asleep. As I dozed off the stars took their positions slowly. Once again, it would be 3 am. Once again, a plethora of stars would crowd the sky, displacing the darkness.