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Boarding a taxi-jeep going up to Phavagad, a mountain temple, I met a traveling sales person. He was selling price guns (those which attach price tags to products). He paid for me, no questions asked - by then I learned this is pretty common with locals meeting a foreigner.
The Jeep, an Indian Mahindra brand, took sharp curves on the winding road uphill. I crowded in the front bench with 2 others beside the driver. Sitting near the door (only there's non on a Jeep) I could see the tire pop out of it's chamber every time we took a curve. The tire sole was worn to where the radial linings showed through the rubber.
As we got to where the road ends we had 2400 stairs to climb up to the mountaintop lake and temple. Each stair was long and slanted so it was more like a sunny-day-easygoing hurdle track
The path was lined with shacks made of any available building material, selling souvenirs, food, drinks etc...
Herds of donkeys carrying goods and even cooking gas tanks for restocking those shops and restaurants, were crossing our way occasionally.
By the end of the day, after descending those 2400 stairs, I had a sore knee, hardly walking.
My new friend had to return to his hometown and family, also in the state of Gujarat and invited me to come to visit him and gave me his phone no.
The next day I got on my way to another town, one he recommended me, an age old center of semi precious stones processing and crafting. You can read about that adventure here: http://jpgmag.com/stories/15223Then after the few days on the road, I reached my friend's town. It was dark by the time the bus I took from Ahmdabad arrived at the small town. Rikshaw divers offered to take me wherever I need to go, but I didn't know where that was just yet. I gave a call to my friend from a PCS booth (the public phone stores that use dial phone and the charge is handed to a person).
My friend gave me the address and I hopped on a rikshaw. When I arrived the place was lit only by the moon. My friend opened a huge gate and I came in. His little red brick house had only a single room, in which he, his wife and their 3 year old daughter (both on this photo) all slept, cooked and lived together.
I was offered the bed (Bistara) you see in the photo. It stood in the common yard their neighbor share too (a single woman and her 10 year old son).
You can still see the folded circular mosquito net laid on the bed in the morning. I mounted it from the tree's branch.
The interesting bed was actually the one near mine, the lower one. It was put together only from parts of a street electric pole: The frame was made of the pole's metal profile sections, the legs were the hangers that carry the wires and the bed's sleeping surface was weaved from the electric wires themselves.
My India: Where every village is home - Experience !
In the story Cloud bedroom.
Also by Etan Doronne
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