My household help, "S.", a hitherto greatly admired lady in the blog world (she knows I write about her), came in this morning, after what must have been a great 3 day weekend for her. She had been telling me much in advance about going away for three days at this time, so as to not inconvenience me , and so that I could mobilize for S-less days, and schedule my stuff accordingly.
S. is a great follower of the late Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, and is a Buddhist. They have a community hall in their crowded locality, where she is an office holder of the local Buddhist Women's Association. Smart, "illiterate", sensible "S.", was earlier the treasurer, and would plan the community events with great care and attention. She probably did an excellent job, despite being unable to read numbers and alphabets , because she is now the President of the group.
Some local folks recently announced a bus trip over the 3 day weekend that just got over. Folks would be picked up, and would travel to the ancestral village of Dr Ambedkar , Ambavade, in the coastal Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra. After spending some time at the memorial there and visiting with his remnant family, they would then proceed to his first wife, Ramabai's ancestral village , about 50 kilometres away, at Wanand , in the Dapoli area of Ratnagiri District. The idea was to spend some time there visiting, learning about her, talking to folks, have a late tea/snacks session, and then drive and spend the night at a hill station , Mahabaleshwar, about 110 kilometres from there.
The drive, although not a big distance in kilometres, was through several small internal roads, some through hilly areas, away from highways, and so quite timeconsuming.
The amazing thing was, that her overall family budget decreed that two people could go, and her family urged S and her daughter to do this trip. They took along the eldest grandson (he went free), a very talkative,curious fellow , all of 5 years, who had started school. With a new grandson in the family and other small grandsons, this would give a break to those who stayed at home, and S told me she thought it might do the eldest fellow some good to see places around where so much history happened.
S cannot read or write, but her descriptions of the trip would make a great travelogue. Leaving at dawn in Mumbai, following the coastal highway to Dr Ambedkar's native village , Ambavade, way inland from the coast, and they reached there at 1 pm. Visited the village center, met and spoke with a nephew (of the great man) who still lives there. A simple village lunch was organized for them. Then to visit the ancestral maternal village of Dr Ambedkar's wife, Ramabai Ambedkar, a small village called Wanand, more on the coastal part (Dapoli) of the same district.
The late Ramabai(1896-1935), was married to Dr Ambedkar when he was 17, and she was 9 , in 1906. While he left to study in England, she continued to slog and support her siblings in their ancestral village in very difficult situations. On Dr. Ambedkar's return, she was a great support to him in his campaigns, and was with him till she died in 1935.
This trip, for S, was to see and meet people in places , she had just heard about till now. Ramabai Ambedkar is greatly revered by folks, and S wanted her grandson to also see, how the rest of the country outside Mumbai lived.
The trip wasn't all educational and serious, she said. From Wanand, they drove 110 kms, to Mahabaleshwar, a very popular hill station , in the mountainous Satara District, to spend the night there. The entire route , after the recent monsoon must have been a wonderful green.
A great day spent sightseeing, visiting river origins, the famous Venna Lake, strawberry farms and factories making delicious strawberry stuff, and it was time to return to Mumbai on the third day. (Mahabaleshwar is famous for its strawberries).
An amazing and nice change for S, where meals and lodging was taken care of, and she could just enjoy the trip.
En route, they passed and stopped at Pratapgadh, a wonderful mountain fort, made famous by Chhatrapati Shivaji, a great Maratha warrior King revered in the state. Her young grandson was dizzy with all the mountain climbs and descents, complained of "chest pain" (if you will) , and forgot all about it the minute they spied the steps ascending to the top of the fort.
Naturally, there were a bunch of things for sale , and the fellow was hoping to buy a big toy sword and shield, costing 150 Rs much to S's chagrin.
"It's all this TV stuff. He thinks he can charge around battling with it, and its just an invitation to get into situations where someone will be hurt ", she told me. And so she convinced him that a set of binoculars was better, and he could watch the stuff from the bus, and see things like birds, and animals, and sceneries that others couldn't etc etc. He could even later see the Thane creek from the hilltop, after he got home, and show his brothers and uncles.
I was amazed at the firmness with which S dealt with this. I know kids who create a racket in toy shops till they get what they want. Regardless of price. Some parents just give up, and give in. Between the sales person's strategy, a possible new reputation as a stingy parent, and unwillingness to become unpopular and be criticized, some attach great value to the ability to spend money easily, and substitute money for reasoned thought.
And here was S, convincing a chap to enjoy a binocular; much cheaper than the sword by all means, but certainly more useful, and shareable.
But what was amazing was what she got for my daughter, when she came in this morning. In this whole fast paced , event packed trip, she had bought a packet of strawberry chews from the strawberry factory in Mahabaleshwar ! The thrilled recipient of these goodies, took a photo of it for this blog, before it was opened , and shared with the family and , of course , S !
All I can say is , "wow!"......