A walk through Machohalli Colony (9/13 cont.)

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After getting off the 240 bus, I walked home through our neighborhood, Machohalli Colony. It is a pleasant walk which usually takes about 15 minutes or so. On this day it took two and a half hours. Thinking of my friend, Shirley, back in Blue Hill who likes detailed descriptions of everything, I planed to take a lot of photos of the walk–usually I’m walking home in the dark and hurrying as I have been told that it isn’t safe to walk there after dark because of a gang of boys who are rough.

What I hadn’t planned on was meeting so many of my neighbors, stopping for chats, being invited for coffee and sweets…

First I stopped to watch the goats and to exchange smiles with the woman herding them. Farther along, I saw her partner off in the distance.

I spent a bit of time chatting with the folks who have a little shop along the way and of course, photographed them.  I’m sorry to say that I didn’t write down their names because  my notebook was packed in my very heavy backpack. Alas, I have forgotten them. The mother tried to get her daughter to smile and to wave to me, but she would have none of that.

For the most part, folks here love being photographed and will often ask me to take their photos or photos of their children. I wish I had one of those mini portable printers so that I could give them copies of the photos.

As I strolled along taking pictures of the houses, landscape, goats (again), and street dogs, I saw two boys on a bike waving at me. I assumed they were just being friendly and wanted their pictures taken, but as I approached them the older boy said, “Hi Trisha.” I was a bit taken aback, my first thought being that he was probably a student at Bapagrama. Then I realized that he was one of the boys who had approached me for a donation to the Ganesha festival as I was walking home to Bapagrama in the dark a few nights previously.

Madhu (I eventually retrieved my  notebook from my pack and wrote down some names to remember–though sometimes I have to wonder where my mind is as I didn’t think to note which name belonged to which person) Madhu and I chatted for a while (his English is very good). He is a second-year college student studying auto mechanics. While we talked, more of the little neighbor boys appeared (Vishal, Vishnu, Vighesh, and Vikas) and I took a picture of some school girls in their uniforms on their way home from school and of Madhu’s grandfather walking out of the fields.

Somewhat abruptly, Madhu told me to follow him. He led me down a dirt driveway to a gorgeous puja for Ganesha. I’m sorry that my photos don’t begin to do it justice. His family (and I think the neighbors?) had built a small, outdoors room out of  palm fronds lined with saris. The colorful Ganesha statue was draped with garlands of flowers–orange and yellow marigolds, white jasmine, pretty little trumpet-shaped lavender-colored flowers, and pink roses, I think. Plates heaped with fruits, sweets, money, and rice were arranged on the table along with two oil lamps.

While I admired the puja, Madhu’s mother, Kavitha, and a neighbor, Devaki, came out. They sat me down and plied me with sweets. We spoke a bit, Madhu translated, watched the antics of the little boys, then Kavitha invited me to her home for coffee. Other neighborhood women joined us, and Kavitha made coffee for us all.

It would be difficult to find any folks more lovely, generous, and welcoming than the people I have met here. Being treated like royalty is difficult to get used to. People are always inviting me in, urging sweet tea or coffee, sweets or food on me, giving me the place of honor. It is uncomfortable to be urged to eat baked goods or food while everyone else (especially children) watches and doesn’t share the food.

I left Madhu’s family and friends with a promise of stopping by again and carried on with my walk home. Just a little before the turn to Bapagrama, two young men carrying a baby on a motorcycle stopped and asked me to photograph the baby, which I gladly did. They looked at the photos on the camera’s tiny viewfinder (I love digital cameras!), smiled their thanks, and went on their way.

At the gate to the Smart School, I stopped to photograph three women approaching from the road that leads to Papaji’s house. Then I turned right to Bapagrama as they turned left through the gates.

continued–Approaching Bapagrama

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