Perhaps my favorite part of my Gujarati weekend was an hours long bike ride I took with Dr. Verma. An avid cyclist, he arranged for me to borrow a friend’s bike and we headed off around 6:30 am. The ride took us through the outskirts of town, weaving through cars, people, cows, rickshaws, stray dogs and motorcycles. After about 30 min, however, we ended up on a stunning road through several tiny rural villages. It was a perfect way to see the countryside. There is something fascinating about seeing these small, tarp covered homes. I was pondering why they drew my eye more than, say, an impressive concretehouse in the city and I theorized that it’s because the domesticity of these dwellings was much more in your face. We drove by people cooking, giving a bath to (an adorable) baby, brushing their teeth in a drainpipe, drinking tea at one of the innumerable chai stalls, praying, eating etc. Even moving at a decent clip on our bikes- it still felt like a strangely intimate experience.
And when we did stop, everyone was incredibly friendly. First we took a break to see some buffalo being milked because duh. The family who owned them immediately started speaking in Gujarti to Dr. Verma and insisted that we try some fresh milk. I watched the woman of the house clean the tin cup with her sari and did some quick gastrointestinal risk calculations (which, if you’ll excuse some foreshadowing, may have been sorely misguided) and decided that of course I need to at least try a sip. It was rich, creamy and more like a milkshake than anything that we call milk.
But the real treasure of this ride was simply the lush, green countryside- dotted with farms, banyon trees and incredible foliage. Throughout our journey Dr. Verma (who is almost 30 years my senior) was, of course, riding circles around me- that man has some serious stamina! He was fresh as a daisy after almost 4 hours of riding. Luckily I am used to people double my age smoking me on the running path at home so my ego wasn’t even dented. I am so grateful that he let me tag along and see his beautiful state in this unique way.