Christmas In Rural India
We Woke To The Sound Of Delwara
Unleashing the shutters on the windows we soaked in the awesome beauty of the Aravali hills and surveyed rural India at work. The village of Delwara sat below us, bulls pushing water mills, women hung out their washing, chickens and pigs scooted raound garden yards, children played, men carried logs. It was like an Indian translation of a Constable painting. We spent the morning exploring Devi Garh’s roof top terraces, viewing platforms, cushioned chambers and balconies set for quiet contemplation. We walked the palace walls and enjoyed the Rajasthani sun for a few hours by the sparkling pool. A lazy Christmas day minus the Bond movies, choosing instead to feature on one of Flemming’s sets. A strenuous couple of lengths gazing up at the big sky followed by an arduous sweet lassi...living the life of a Maharaja can be a tad testing. Devi Garh attracts a cosmopolitan set, a group of French Trustafairians, Jewish honeymooners, Hollywood casting agents and apparently Liz Hurley.
We dragged our reluctant bodies away from the pool and explored Delwara, past the saluting guards and through the dusty crumbling roads. Shouts of ‘hullo’, ‘hullo’, ‘how are you?’, ‘I’m fine’ sprung from skinny healthy children, with smiles bigger than their faces and gorgeous pool sized brown eyes. A couple of urchins latched on to us practising their English performing slapstick antics. Their older friend, Shahid became our unofficial guide and were, paraded around the village as prize curiosities. We stopped by the village potter, the miller, shops and make shift stalls...India is the birthplace of the true entrepreneur. For us, India has become the known as the ‘land of smiles’ out of every doorway and window bright white smiles shone and hands waived without inhibition. Kodak moments followed thick and fast, capturing sights which would remind of us of the smells, such as women carrying dung piles for fuel. Family units were unconventional and extended to include goats, pigs, cows and sows and in some cases we couldn’t work out the difference between human and livestock quarters.
That evening we scrubbed up for Christmas dinner comprising Murgh Palak (Spinach Chicken) and Laal Mans (mutton, with a silky dressing of cream and almonds). Rajahsthani cuisine fit for the Rajah, (the recipe is in development!). I needed to meet the chef behind these potentially heavy yet delicately assembled dishes. Feeling a little fabulous from the pre-dinner cocktails and the bottle of claret I boldly approached the moustachioed head chef who kindly led me through the kitchens mid service. Furiously at work was a brigade of chefs who were capable of delivering world peace with these astounding treasures, truly unifying and crossing cultural and culinary boundaries. We finished the evening over cognac and a round of pool, a perfect day, except for missing Queenie’s speech.