Peggy Smith, India and the Commons Jan-Feb 2011 travel blog

Orange grove

Selling oranges roadside

Dad wanted me to take this photo with his daughter

Curious and happy

Rucha at the SHODH office

Rucha's Mom--such a gracious lady

Shopping at the Ayurveda store

Shopping at the shoe store

Enjoying the sight of sweets

One mode of transport in Nagpur

Shopping at the fabric store

Deepshika and Rucha struggling with IFRI data (Int'l Forestry Resources and Institutions)

Katol Road near Ghate's home

A vegetable stall on Katol Road

Cows take over the road to Chandrapur

January 23-25, 2011, Nagpur

What a treat to be staying with the Ghate's (Rucha and Suresh, who teaches Mathematics at Nagpur University, and Rucha's mother who is visiting until Feb 5). It's an almost "normal" life for a bit. We had a lazy Sunday where I spent most of the day catching up on posting blogs and photos. We did go out shopping at a local department store for a couple of hours in the afternoon and I bought a cotton outfit. The drive to the shopping area was pleasant. The traffic here is nowhere near the chaos of Hyderabad and Bangalore and there's lots of green space, including some beautiful' tree-lined streets. Nagpur, with its population of about 3 million, is supposed to be the one of the "greenest" cities in India, although there's still lots of the ever-present garbage.

I was very tired and slept 10 hours Saturday and Sunday nights. I'm getting used to the food. The Ghates are strictly vegetarian, but the cook (they also have a housekeeper, a washerwoman, a gardener and a car washer--sharing the wealth) prepares a wonderful variety of food including flatbreads (rotis and chapatis), plantain, potatoes, beets, pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, peas, all kinds of grains from rice to tapioca, sweets and more. They have toned the heat down for me, keeping all of their really hot sauces on the side. I'm even eating with my hands. Breakfast is usually at 8 and then there's a full lunch about 10:30-11, after which everyone heads to work. Dinner is about 8 pm. This schedule is very different from my usual eating routine, but I'm adjusting.

Monday late morning we (me and Rucha's Mom) accompanied Rucha to her workplace, the SHODH Institute ( We spent a couple of hours there and then went shopping, first to an Ayurvedic shop for soap, shampoo, aloe vera juice and massage oil (Usha, the cook, is also a masseuse and I had an appointment for a massage with her at 4 pm). Next we went shopping for shoes for Rucha's Mom and finished our excursion off with stops at 2 fabric stores. Can't believe how cheap fabric is. I bought some cotton at one store to make a kurta. Rucha has a tailor and says it's very inexpensive to have clothes made.

Returned home just in time for my massage. Usha gave me an hour-long full body massage, including head massage with Ayurvedic oil. It seemed more like a rolfing session with every part of my body screaming out in pain as she applied pressure. My leg and arm muscles hurt, my joints hurt, my back and shoulders hurt. I felt great afterwards, but didn't know if I was going to get through it. Rucha says her rheumatoid arthritis has stopped bothering her since Usha started giving her massages. I will have a couple more before I leave.

Today Suresh dropped off just me and Rucha at the office. Her Mom was tired and stayed home. I finished editing a paper that Lynn will now need to complete. I have one more paper I have to review before the end of January. I had to fill out a form about my arrival in Nagpur that needed to be filed with both Immigration and the local police department under a 1936 law requiring the registration of foreigners. Suresh came by mid afternoon and took me to the local passport office, part of a huge legal complex with government offices and many legal types walking around in black suit jackets and white shirts. We went back and picked up Rucha. On the way home, we stopped at the local police station to register me again. I'm now legal and have stashed away the notorized form with my passport.

We also picked up a couple of bottles of local red wine (quite good) and enjoyed a couple of glasses when we got home, along with a delicious deep fried appetizer that Usha prepared. I topped off my evening eats with a bowl of salted rice with yogurt that Rucha prepared for me. Thinking of heading to bed. We have plans to be on the road to the village by 8:30 tomorrow morning, but Rucha says there's no rush.

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