Wednesday, May 11

Sweet Duppatas

In Setrawa almost everything we eat enters our home as a whole ingredient. Our flour comes as grains that we mill down and sift. Our rice needs to be picked through and is never washed. The vegetables all come with stems still on and the spices are made from the plants they grow on. Processing the food eats up most of our recreational time, but is typically a therapeutically methodical and social activity. 

Today, on our way home from Sambhali, Usha, Jen and I were stopped by Usha's brother holding something peculiar. In his hand was a pot of warm honey with the comb still attached. I was thrilled after sampling and he generously offered a demonstration. 

On recommendation I protectively wrapped the bare skin of my face and arms with my duppata (the semi transparent scarf that matches my selwar suit). The teenage boys were making smoking torches out of old straw brooms. They used these to smoke out the bees which had settled in the heap of materials being used in a construction project. They then uncovered and picked up an entire brick which was half covered in a honey comb.

A piece of the honey comb was instantly torn off and fed to me before I could ensure the bees had left it. Thankfully the busy bees were effectively disinterested and ignored our ravaging of their hard work. After the best of the comb was salvaged, the children scrounged off every bit of honey with their fingers. 

Meanwhile one boy wrapped the honeycomb in a pink dupatta and essentially wrung it out like a wet towel, spinning it tighter to force the honey out of the comb, through the fabric of the dupatta, and dripping into the pot below. Everyone from Baby Kuishy to her dadi (grandmother) enjoyed touching sticky surfaces and licking their fingers clean. I have never tasted such delicious honey. Maybe it was that it was still warm from the heat of the bees' efforts or the communal experience. Maybe it was actually sweeter or I have gone too long without honey. Or, just maybe, it was especially delicious because it was dripping from a brilliant pink duppata. 

In Hindi, pink is gulabi. I have no trouble remembering this word as it takes on the feeling of an onomonpoeia with the bubble gum colored saris that fill buses and shops all over Rajasthan and now with the gooey drips of decadent honey gliding along the edges of sweet pink dupatta.

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