This is a part of a book I am writing at http://snapshotsonmycoffeetable.blogspot.com.
I would like your comments on any aspect of the blog.
Specific to the passage below, I would like to know how it comes across to readers outside India- who are not familiar with many of the words below. Does it make any sense at all?
"We moved to Kanker to be with Papa after my school session. Harshit was much better and stronger now, and the house was ready for us to move in.
The trip to Kanker was exciting- we travelled from Raipur by jeep. Papa had some work to attend in a village on our way.
The road was so narrow sometimes that it was impossible for two vehicles to be on the road simultaneously. But thankfully there was no traffic. We crossed only cycles, or bullock carts, and they were rare.
So everytime we saw a bullock cart in the distance a decision had to be taken- who would stay on the road?
Papa was very careful to park the jeep off the road if he could. He said that the bullocks were not used to the sound of the jeep, and blowing the horn to force the cart off the road was dangerous- because the animal was likely to bolt.
We stopped by a stream- and some women were washing up. I was horrified, they wore something like a muddy white towel wrapped around like men do after a bath. And that was it. Even in the village, most women did not wear a blouse with their half sari, but at least they covered themselves.
They were so different from us. Dark skinned to begin with, but even their faces were built different from ours. The women wore combs like jewellery in their hair which was coiled at one side instead of the middle.
On Dashehra festival, we burnt Rawan in Bhopal. In Jagdalpur,they danced with bison horns in a fancy arrangements on their heads.
We saw the Ghotul and I even learnt to sing one of the songs- re raiyo rela, sa rela rela- and Amma and I danced with the women to the beats of the Madal- or rather we tried. It was impossible to keep up with the pace of the dance, which looked simple from the outside.
Papa was a teetotaller, but we got to taste Salfi one morning- in an instant cup devised from a twisted leaf and a twig, it smelt strange, but it was fascinating to see it collected from pots hanging on the palm tree.
My brother, Harshit was too small to notice the difference between us and them, but I felt like a foreigner.
I have come across many presentations of the tribal woman, and much of it is poetic and beautiful. But a sense of alienation between the observer and observed invariably shows up .
I saw Papa's colleagues and family friends, look at the same people- but the view was from the eye of a microscope.
Papa's eyes were so accepting of whatever he faced. It was as if he saw physical beings from a wide angle lens in his eye, while the zoom was on the soul.
He talked about the women too - enthusiastically, and often; of their ready smiles, their active participation at work. He thought they were the stronger gender in the community.
Unlike many other government officials, he liked travelling to the interiors of Bastar, and he took Amma right into the forests of Aboojhmar.
I don't recall Amma sharing the anxiety that other women faced about the husband touring in an area that offered so much temptation to the man, or about the dangers of being shot by a random arrow.
In that home, I would have felt ashamed of talking about the way men and women dressed- and in a naturally, matter of fact way, I found myself accepting revealed body parts !! After that other differences did not matter.