Camping is the most popular holiday event in the western world. Families love to go out and spend time with friends.
They make bbq and often eat together.
It feels like a life back in time,
with torchlight just like lanterns,
with uncomfortable and compromised conditions,
with rough and tough outlook,
With communal laundry washing and ironing facility.
All in an attempt to step out from the comfort zone and challenge ourselves to be tough, to accept change yet above all for a mind-blowing experience.
A caravan and camping rustic holiday reminded me of my first experience to witness village life in Pakistan.
It was nothing extraordinary…..Simple houses, farm animals, fields of seasonal crops of wheat or yellow mustard, and my favourite red berry fruit trees.
For someone like me coming from a congested, busy and somewhat mechanical city life, a village had so much contrast to offer.
Open spaces, barren fields, scattered trees, mud houses and panoramic views.
Nature in a very pure form, unlike the smoky, noisy hustle and bustle.
Everything looked wrapped in a blanket of dust. A lot of uncovered soil that made it look like a dust storm when it was windy, at the same time produced a cool and fresh fragrance when the rain absorbed in ever thirsty soil.
Rain could make anyone jump for joy there, especially when it was unexpected. It takes a very heavy consistent rain to give a wet effect to the surroundings. Usually, it stops well before the impact could be felt fully.
‘Too much rain will also be a disaster here’, I thought while looking around at endless soil.
The night was such a special time. With very little light dispersed far away, I could see the big sky, a number of stars.
Sleeping under the night sky is a treasure that people of the city are denied of.
Like they say everything comes with a prize. While staying up at night to enjoy the night galore on the sky I slept very late. However, it was also a custom to wake up early. On the crowing of roosters at the break of dawn. ‘It still is dark’, I thought. ‘Is there no concept of waking up late in holidays here? I asked, however, a big, fat, straight ‘no’ was the answer.
Starting a day in the darkness came as a new idea for me. Like ‘what now’ was a feeling. Questions like ‘why o why?’ came to my mind. I was being told an ability to see in the dark gives eyes a better vision. Though a myth at that time yet I could hardly find anyone with glasses there.
Soon after the prayers, we had a cup of tea to revive us. It felt like a life support system. I could open my eyes better and move my neck freely. Too much excitement for one morning I thought.
Food was delicious. Simple, organic, made from scratch.
On arrival of guests, often the youngest one in the family is sent to get hold of a chic or hen. It is often a sight to see them running behind a particular hen. If it happens to be their favourite, it could take longer for the child to hold it in hands and present to be slaughtered.
The food is cooked in sometimes pots made of clay. Most utensils are made of clay. With all fresh vegetables from the garden and freshly grounded masalas, the aroma is magical when it spreads all around in the open air.
Not only the porous surface of clay utensils give a peculiar flavour, but it also adds to the beauty of simplicity. I personally love having water from the pitchers in a mud bowl often referred to as ‘badiya’. I request for it when I am offered a glass or drink bottle alternatively being an outsider.
Flour is kneaded there and then and often help is at hand from the neighbours. A neighbour often steps in to wash and cut the vegetables, make fresh roti on ‘tandoor’ a handmade oven and set food on a mat on the floor.
If any of my neighbouring friends are reading it, please read twice.
I don’t know what to call it, simplicity, purity, closeness to nature or luck. This food always tasted a lot better than five-star restaurants.
How often in cities we overexert ourselves to give lavish dinners, a number of dishes and limitless choices. All forms, colours and origins of food. Variety is key for us. Often we use expensive crockery that we collect all around the world, often saved for special occasions.
Yet sometimes, we can’t be bothered to rummage looking for crockery and conveniently produce disposable cups and plates instead.
Lunch and dinners get us exhausted, but nothing compares to one dish savoury and one sweet dish in a village. The lesson of simplicity, manners of hosting, love, affection and hospitality can never be felt in take away foods and expensive restaurants.
This is exactly what I felt. I realised that people were very happy as they were less pretentious.
Outlooks had a little role to play. Everyone was tanned by working under the sun. Their clean clay houses gleamed like glass, they made the use of early hours of the day, managed to finish work by evening.
At night men and women went out for long walks and to meet other family and friends. Despite a busy lifestyle, farm, animals, crops and water collection, they always managed to meet each other every day. To ask how others were, to meet the elderly and unwell. To get to know if help is needed. It is a great custom. That keeps them lively and sociable.
Yet they always know how to enjoy themselves. Weddings are a time to sing and dance till late. Men and women have a special dance called ‘luddi’ where everyone follows the same steps.
Steps that change every now and then. I tried to dance too but was hard to keep up. They had some great team building, unmatched skills.
One thing that I liked about the village life was that they were untouched by the materialistic, fast and furious life of the city. They were unaware of the latest technology, gadgets and social media giants and therefore lived as a big close-knit, innocent family. Their communication skills amazed me.
If such creative and hardworking people have a vision and knowledge, they could change the face of this planet.
Perhaps, they are exemplary as they are, fresh, simple and cool, just like those welcoming raindrops on desert soil.