Water Buffaloes and Saris – Majkhlai, India

Sheets of rain came down all yesterday, forcing me to sleep inside for the night. Despite the brick walls, the roosters cry woke me up at the crack of dawn. I tiptoed out of the cottage around sleeping bodies.

Misty Mornings
Misty Mornings – Ranikhet

A grey dawn greeted me with a crescent moon hanging to the left of the red roof. The birds trilled as loud as if the sun shined bright. Mist came and went like a ventriloquist pulling a blanket. White and pink blossoms specked the terraces, and white daisies coated the mossy wall that held the cottage up above the terraces. Flocks of birds, green brown gold yellow red, flew above me. The sun finished rising tinting the sky pink but still hidden by the hill top above me.

The colors of this place wrapped me up. The other day a group of children ran through the courtyard covered in flowers for a festival, wearing a mix of western hoodies and Indian clothes. Their voices, twittering and singing, twisted into my ears. No matter where I am, India never stops thrumming with life.

On the road again Photo: Lily Shiland
On the road again – Photo: Lily Shiland

The buses came late that day to take us to Majkhali. Multiple families in this mountain village agreed to take us bumbling westerners in so we headed down more windy roads to discover what living in India truly meant.

The short drive spun us past military bases dowsed in India’s national colors, temples with marble roofs, and fields of flowers and emerald green grass. We drove down a dirt road and hoisted all our bags onto our backs. Our host moms came bubbling down the road in a kaleidoscope of colored saris, smiling shyly at us. We started up the hills following paths that twisted like delusional serpents, cut into fields and hills. The walk to our new home was a hike over multiple hills through courtyards and cricket fields and past water buffalo. By the time we reached our home sweat drenched every part of me.

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One of the host moms in front of her home

The family showed us into our room, pushing open the blue doors. A small squat room with a tarp ceiling greeted us. We happily collapsed onto our wooden platform beds, leaving the room only for a late dinner in the smoky kitchen. We scooped rice and Dahl into our mouths with roti carefully as we practiced with our hands. Our host moms watched us carefully, shooing us off to bed once they were assured of our full stomachs.

Overwhelmed and utterly exhausted and happy to be alone, I collapsed into my sleeping bag, dreaming of colors and the water buffalo in the room next to us.

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Enjoying the beautiful view from our house’s roof
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