Wednesday, 30 October 2013


In Rahmatpur, my husband’s ancestral home the old ways are still observed and respected.   It is very much a patriarchal society.  Married women wear a sari.  Brides cover their head and hide their face from all males older than their husbands.  The married women of the household bathe and dress early in the morning just in case a visitor arrives.  The village is still talking about the scandalous bride that dared to visit the village two years ago wearing a salwar kameez.  As far as I could tell there is no dress code for the men.

The head of the household routinely receives visitors on the front porch.  Ram informed me it would be better for me to remain inside.  If he wanted to introduce me, he would bring his visitor inside to meet me.  The women visit together inside the home and enjoy drinking chai (tea).

Ram chatting with  a neighbour.

Ram is getting his nails clipped from the third generation barber.

Bahurani Purnima told , me I had to get my toenails painted.  She said I had no choice and it was expected.

This lady is also a barber that will paint my toenails.  She is grandmother to Ram's barber.

I did d not know toenail painting included most of my foot.

At least I am in good company.

These two barbers serve all of the Singh family in the village.  Each Singh household pays for their services with grains and other farm products. Because our family seldom visits we also gave them money and saris.

I am now ready to receive visitors.

These are two of my bahuranies (daughter in laws) on my left and my sister  in  law  to my right.

More family.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013


I have enjoyed hearing about my husband’s childhood growing up in Rahmatpur.  Now I have finally been able to visit myself.  The original house is no longer there.  We stayed in the home built by his late brother.  The house plan was designed by my late sister in law and was modelled after her father’s home. It is built on three levels around a center court that is open to the sky.  It has been empty for many years.  The wiring and light fixtures were stolen.  We rented a generator to run some lights and fans and brought our drinking water from Patna.

Front porch

First floor.  The centre court is open to the sky and surrounded by a covered walkway which is surrounded by separate rooms, four bedrooms a bathroom, kitchen and indoor water well.

Two twin wood bed frames were put together and covered with quilts.  This became the formal gathering place for the women during the day and the grandchildren’s bed which was covered with mosquito netting at night.  Bahurani Purnima is quite comfortable with our son Keshar standing.

Our bedroom.  The bed was wood covered only with quilts.  I wished I had my camping air mattress. Misquote netting was added at night.


Indoor water well..  No we did not use this water.

                    Second floor.  Here there are two bedrooms, two bathrooms, storage rooms and a large balcony.                                             

Second floor

This bench is on the second floor covered walkway.  My late sister in law enjoyed drinking tea and visited with her lady friends here.  It would have been covered with a quilt. 

Second floor
View from third floor.  Here there is a smaller balcony and more storage..

Another third floor view

My apology for the amateur look of this page.  Blogger has done something to this site.  It is impossible to set the margins. 

Thursday, 17 October 2013


As Ram’s mother predicted, once educated her sons did leave the village, Late Elder Brother to Patna and Ram to the USA.  Although Ram Singar was in Patna, he did maintain ties with the village and managed the farm and sharecroppers from Patna.  At the request of his wife he built a home there and they did spend time there.  Unfortunately his wife suffered a stroke, became wheelchair bound and was no longer able to live there.  Ram remained in the USA telling his brother to take his share of the land and do with it as he saw fit.  After his brother’s death the management of the property has fallen largely to Bahurani Purnima as her husband is busy with his work and has no time for Rahmatpur.  It appears the Singh family has slowly lost control. The patriarchal society has no regard for female management making things difficult for Bahurani Purnima.

The house has fallen into neglect, the wiring and light fixtures have been stolen.  It has become painfully event that the Singh family no longer wields the presence it once did.  Though the servants had several weeks’ notice, the house was not made ready.  There was a mad scramble to get things done after we arrived.  There have been no records kept as to how much crops were sold for.  Apparently the foreman was taking bribes for the villagers for the privilege of sharecropping our fields.  We found that another cousin had gained access to the house and made it look like a school in order  to receive government monies.  No classes were ever held there except on the day of inspection.  We found a squatter’s newly built house on our field. With the blessing of our son and Bahurani Purnima,  Ram will visit frequently and help reestablish our presence. 

The foreman originally hired my husband forty years ago has been fired and a temporary foreman installed.  He is already busy getting things done.  He will see that a water pump is placed on the old home site so that we have water access when we visit.  We carried drinking water with us from Patna.  This will benefit the other villagers as well.

Ram standing on the front porch of his late brother's home

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


Our trip to my husband’s ancestral village has prompted many a conversation about his Indian roots and heritage.  Ram’s ancestors were Rajput, from the area of what is now Rajasthan.  Rajput is derived from the Sanskrit word raja-putra meaning son of a king. They were ruling Hindu warier land owners.  His ancestors relocated to the Indian State of Bihar due to the Mogul invasion somewhere around 1560.  Has family has been in Rahmatpur, for five or six generations. 

Ram’s father was a typical farmer, wealthy in land and poor in money.  Ram’s mother was fourteen when she married, an arranged mirage.  She continued to live with her parents and would visit her husband from time to Time until she was older sixteen or seventeen.  Though she could not read she knew every inch of her property and where and when to plant each type of crop. She worked alongside of her work hands until they begged her to stop due to their exhaustion.  She was most unhappy when her husband sold her gold jewelry to purchase more land.  Now I know why there has never been a piece of property my husband did not want to buy.

Ram was born he thinks in 1945.  There were no birth certificates at the time.  India was under British rule.  As Ram so well puts it, “The British could have cared less about the birth of another Indian baby.”  Ram’s younger nephew, Jeevan thinks he was born in 1945, so it seems Ram may be two years older than previously thought.

Rahmatpur was starting to become more crowded and during Ram’s childhood.  Realizing that in the future their land would not be able to support the growing population, his father became the laughing stock of the village when he decided to spend scarce money to educate his two sons. His mother was also upset knowing they would probably leave the village leaving no one to manage the farm.   His elder brother, Ram Singar Singh was sent to Patna for his education.  This opened his eyes to the many possibilities beyond village life.  Ram has fond memories of his brother coming home to visit always bringing a book bag and candy.  Ram Singar later became Secretary to India’s Health Minister, the equivalent to the Secretary of Health in the USA. 

Ram qualified to go into the Indian Air Force. However this required a mother’s signature which she refused to give.  Instead, Ram obtained his engineering degree at the insistence of his father.  By the time he finished his degree, jobs in India were scarce.  With thirteen dollars in his pocket and a one way airline ticket he came to the USA and lived the American Dream.

Now, he has come full circle.  Our visit to the village confirmed that his father was right.  The land of his cousins has become overpopulated and living for many is not easy.  Once open spaces and the play field are now crowded with homes.  The village is no longer laughing.

Ram's childhood home once stood here.  This is taken from the second story balcony of the home his elder brother built.  This is where the barns once were.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Patna is the home of our nephew, Keshar.  Per India custom he is actually considered to be our Son, his wife our daughter in law and their children, our grandchildren.  Durga Puja, celebrated over five days, occurred while we were visiting.  Colored lights were everywhere.  Elaborate temporary temples made of silk, housing the image of the Goddess Durga, were erected all over the city.





 Our granddaughter, Kini insisted that we go to “the dance of sticks” It was quite a family event.  Women and children were dressed in their best outfits.  It reminded me of a rock concert.  I’m glad that I went but a onetime experience for me.

 Durga Puja is also celebrated by wearing new clothes.  I am happy with my new sari and had fun shopping with Kini and Bahurani (daughter in law) Purnima.



The down side is that traffic was snarled everywhere.  This really slowed down our trip to Rahmatpur, my husband’s ancestral home and birthplace.  On the last day the Idol Durga is taken and immersed into the Ganges River.  This coincided with our travels back to Patna.



If you desire to know more about the Godess Gurga go to this link.

Monday, 7 October 2013


It has been an “It’s India.” sort of week for me.  The monsoon type of weather has returned, this time cold and damp.  My freshly washed cloths won’t dry.  Normally not a problem, I dry them in front of our portable heater blower but it craped out.  It’s under warrantee.  The company is having someone pick it up on Tuesday for repair, or so they say.  Everything operates on “Indian time”.  I don’t have faith it will happen as stated.  Hopefully it will be it up while Kamla is here.  She was shocked at the to do deep cleaning list I gave her.  That is another story. 

We are leaving for Delhi  by overnight train this evening. We have booked a sleeper car so the trip won’t be too bad.  Some clothing I had planned to take will not be dry. It has been on the line for two days.

Sunday, yesterday we tried to make an 8 hr. hotel reservation.  We get into Delhi ay 4 AM and fly to Patna 6PM.  The hotel answered but stated that it is Sunday and we cannot make the reservation until Monday.  He answered the phone for God’s sake!  Why couldn’t he just go ahead and make the reservation?  We previously tried to make an online reservation but the site was requesting a zip code and the online form had no place to put it.  Therefor we could not complete the transaction.  

We will be in Patna for a few days then on to Rahmatpur Ram's village via car.  The house there has been empty for a long time.  All of the copper wiring disappeared a long time ago.  Ram has arranged for the house to be cleaned and made ready and for the use of a generator.  It sounds like we will be kind of camping out.  At any rate I am excited to visit my husband’s birthplace and meet his family that is still there.  I’m also happy to be in some warmer weather.  Hopefully not too warm, I hear it is still on the hot side.  

Oh, I must remember to take toilet paper.  It is not widely used here.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


When two Hindu people marry, it is believed that their souls are joined together for at least seven reincarnations.  The Bride is offered to the Groom by the Gods as a gift and therefore he must treat her as a queen.
A Hindu wife must serve her husband by serving him as she would God.  She must always remain obedient, cheerful and serve him by treating his friends and family with respect and service.  She is expected to dress finely in all of her jewelry when he is present and not to dress up when he is away.  She is not to associate with other men intimately.  She becomes everything to the family.  She becomes the family’s counselor and supporter and maintains a calm within the family.
A Hindu wife is expected to be devout and maintain dharma, those behaviors considered necessary for the maintenance of the natural order of things including duty, and all behaviors considered appropriate, correct and morally upright. This includes worshiping her Gods, observing all religious rites and holidays, and fasting when required.
A Hindu wife is expected to keep her house neat and clean and decorated according to the tastes of her husband. She is also required to serve good meals to her husband and his friends, relatives and associates as a sign of her support of him.  She will eat only after her husband children and family have been served.
The highest purpose of a Hindu marriage is procreation, therefore a Hindu wife has the duty to bear children for her husband, and to love, protect and nurture her them with her whole being. It is her duty to raise her children in the Hindu faith and love and serve them completely.  In return a Hindu husband's duty to respect and nurture his wife,
Once beyond child bearing and raising, a Hindu wife’s duties are to continue with honoring her husband, keeping her faith and her house, and extend to acting as counsel for younger members of her caste and community. Her wisdom and knowledge at this stage of life is culturally valued, and she instructs and guides younger women in their Hindu duties.  If her husband dies she no longer wears jewelry or colorful clothing.  She is expected not to remarry and will lead a chaste life in meditation and worshiping her Gods.

As a White Indian Grandmother I fall short.  It is a goal that if strive for.  My children, Hindu husband and familyare my everything.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


Today, August 15, India celebrates 67 years of Independence from British rule.  Though not bloodless this freedom was won by a revolution of nonviolence and peaceful resistance under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.  I am so proud of India.  May she continue to prosper and grow.

Gandhi at the spinning wheel, Sabarmati Ashram, 1925
Charkha (spinning wheel) became the symbol of National Unity

Started for Dandi from Ahmedabad at 6.30 A.M. on foot 
with 78 followers for the historic Salt March, March 12, 1930

With the Congress President Jawaharlal Nehru, Lucknow, 1936

Gandhi went on fast as ruler of Rajkot did not keep promise given to people, Rajkot,
March 1939

Gandhi and Nehru leaving Segaon to attend 
the Working Committee meeting at Wardha, September 1939

Gandhi and Nehru at the mass spinning during the National Week, Delhi, April 1946

India celebrates Independence August 15, 1947

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's First Prime Minister August, 1947

Sunday, 21 July 2013


It’s true.  You can find almost anything here in India.  Sometime the packaging is different than what is found in the United States. Shopping is a bit different too, especially in the smaller towns.  The market consists of small family run shops.  One basically goes up to the shop counter and asks for what they want.  The shop keeper gets it for you, and tallies up the bill, usually by hand.  A lot of times the counter is actually on the street. Looking at the shops it is not always easy to determine just what they carry.  One must ask.

Haldwani, Uttarakhand

We bought our gas cook top here and I found a pair of sandals nest door at Liberty.

Bhowali, Uttarakhand

This is part of the main market and where we do most of our shopping.  Here one can find poultry, fruit and vegetable stands as well as clothing, saree and jewelry shops, tailors, a barber, hardware and paint supply, several general stores, sweet shops and a pharmacy.

Poultry stand, Bhowali Market

Fresh chicken anyone?

Pharmacy in Haldwani
A prescription is not needed.  The pharmacist will make suggestions if you don't know exactly what you need.

Fast food shop in Ramgarh Uttarakhand

We found the Samosas to be very tasty and very fresh.

General Shop Bhowali, Uttarakhand

This shop is similar to a convenience store in the United States, only smaller.  They sell snacks, dairy products, drinks as well as cell phone minutes.

Milk comes in a one liter plastic bag.  I boil it to keep it from splitting.  If you want cream, it then can be skimmed off from the top.

Cooking oil
Cooking oil comes in a one liter bag as well as in very large plastic containers.  Many types of oil are also available.  For health reasons we prefer soy.

Bleach 16 ounces
I was very surprised to find bleach in this concentrated form.  The directions say to add two caps to a bucket of water.  Actually it makes perfect sense.  Shelf space is limited and many customers walk to the market.  Who wants to lug a gallon of bleach?

24 liter copper water filter

This Copper water filter is my latest find.  Due to the Monsoon the trail to the spring has become muddy and hard to travel.  We can now filter our tap water for drinking and cooking.  The copper kills viruses and gram negative and gram positive bacteria including MRSA.  

This copper container also has a ceramic candle filter that filters particles from the water but leaves oxygen and mineral contents unchanged, which gives water it's spring-like taste. Pathogens filtered from the water include; cholera, typhus, cryptosporidium, amoebic dysentery, ecoli, colibacillose or bilharzia, anthrax spores among others.  It also filters out pesticides.