Day one in Ropar

Waking up in Ropar was peaceful. Children were playing in the street and birds chirping outside. There was a quiet rumble of traffic and a few horns sounding in the distance.

It is a festival for girls at the moment and so children were walking down the street being given food.

I stood on the balcony watching children playing in the park opposite. Crowds of agile monkeys bounced across the street and leapt up water pipes to roof tops. There they bathed in water tanks. Baby monkeys followed their elders eloquently.

Returning inside I was treated to an Indian style breakfast (aloo prantha) chapatis stuffed with cabbage and potatoes, you dip them in curd yoghurt. They were delicious.

Satisfied from a hearty meal, I went to my friend’s cousin’s appartment. Their new neighbour had just renovated a home. They were having a religious moving in street party.

We joined for some more tasty food – a paneer curry and a cauliflower curry with even more chapatis. I broke the flat bread scooped up the curry and tucked in using my hands (the custom in India). You should eat with your right hand. The curry flavours were exquisite

I was very full after the main course and had no room for the sweet dessert as appetising as they looked.

Feeling bloated we relaxed and watched Bollywood music videos before having another lunch. I was given more outstanding food. Beans, paneer, salad, rice and chapatis. I am going to have to learn how to cook all these dishes when I’m back in London. We sat on a bed using a plastic food mat to tuck into the incredible food. The Indian culture revolves around food much like the Jewish culture. Hosts feed their guests to welcome them and show respect and love.

That afternoon we visited an old house in the village made from cow dung. It was impressively built.

It is a traditional home that would have been used a long time ago. There was beauty in it’s simplicity. The house had one room and a bathroom outside. It is all that is really needed – somewhere to sleep and wash. With the sun setting it looked romantic. I thought about how we overcomplicate everything and how minimalism could save us lots of time and stress.

We visited the local Sikh temple, which was stunning. White domes towered into the blue sky. You must take your shoes off before entering and wash your feet. It felt very peaceful inside. Religious figures sung and individuals sat on the floor listening and praying. It seemed like a great way to unwind after a day at work. After paying a small donation we were given sweets by the priest.

On the drive back we stopped for a sugar cane juice and some Pani Puri street food. The sweet water was very refreshing. Pani Puri is a crispy, hollow pastry filled with beans, spices, sweet mango chutney and is covered in yoghurt. You put the whole thing on your mouth in one go. First you can taste the sweet fruits, then the spicy flavours kick your taste buds. Lastly the soothing yoghurt settles all the seasoning.

We returned home to rest and relax. I slept soundly completely full of food.

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