As our merry band of travelers stepped (or in some cases sleepily stumbled) off the overnight train that had taken us from Uttarakhand to Jaipur, there was a lot to greet us. While the shouts of delight may have tipped me off, it wasn’t until I was able to shove myself-bag and all- through the tiny train door and onto the platform that I could fully appreciate the sight before my eyes. Betty’s back! In addition to Betty’s re-appearance after a truly harrowing ordeal getting her visa, we were also greeted with all that comes with a bustling city: the blanket of heat, symphony of car horns, assult of various smells, busy schedules… and the internet. It’s so easy to get caught up in the bustle of city life so I’d like to take some time to appreciate our time in Uttarakhand.
The week before our glorious reunion with Betty was spent at a truly beautiful place called the Center for The Contemplation of Nature. The daily walks through towering trees with views of the Himalayas and lush valleys were breathtaking. The knowledge Ajay shared with us regarding development in India, fair trade, and agriculture was truly fascinating and has left us much to think about. Learning how to contemplate nature and spending time making art from it has given us a greater appreciation for our surroundings. Nothing, however, compares to our breakfast experiences.
Almost every day a new delicious concoction would appear in the breakfast spread with a few staple items that carried over. Amaranth seeds, boiled peanuts, dried dates- these were our daily players. On the day our host Ajay Ji brought out a full jar of peanut butter there was not a face without a smile on it. That excitement was nothing compared to what was generated each time a piping hot loaf of bread would find itself on our plates. Millet flower, honey, banana and yeast made for a yummy combo worth raving about. Even the amaranth seeds were made unique by the knowledge we gained as to all the hard work it takes to get rid of the outer layers of the seed by using ones feet and some thrashing. Everything we ate there was not only organic but usually quite healthy and tasty too. Except, that is, for the day we woke up at 6am to see the sunrise over the mountains and stopped on our way back for chai and Jalabi. The best way I can think to describe Jalabi would be deep fried deliciousness soaked in syrup– the real breakfast of champions. Naturally, we were mistaken in the time that the sun rose and had to repeat the delicious process starting at 5 am the next day. Mornings well spent and stomaches well fed.