18 January, 2021

Salt Is... Yes, Sweet

Human warmth amid a harsh landscape, the contrast lingers...

Rahul Surve
Salt Is... Yes, Sweet
This is one of those rare days when you want to send up a prayer of thanks for the miracle of modern travel. We began our journey in a congested, bad-tempered airport on the edge of Delhi. But here we are now, two flights and a hour’s drive later, on a string cot padded with bright quilts and cushions, under a midnight blue, moonless sky splashed with stars, in the still heart of the banni (grasslands) of northern Kachchh. Wood crackles and burns in an open-air fireplace and the verses of Kabir, sung in deep, plaintive voices, fill the air:

Chun chun maati mahal banaya
Moorkh kahe ghar mera
Khaak mein khap jaana bande
Maati se mil jaana
Thoda karo abhiman...

An hour or two later, we reluctantly let the singers from the nearby Meghwal hamlet leave with their simple instruments and head for our own tryst with maati—circular mud huts called bhungas, with conical roofs of intricately woven grass. Insulated in this warm cocoon from the chilly wind blowing across the banni, you sleep...



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