We drove out of Salawas on a very bad, deeply rutted road. Prem’s driving skills kept the car in one piece. We soon were in an area where there were very few houses very far apart.
We came to a house where an old man lived. Roop spoke to the man briefly in Hindi. The man invited us to sit down then began relating his life story. His wife died of cancer before she was thirty. He never remarried. His son was killed in a motorcycle accident at the age of 24. His daughter is married and lives nearby, but the old man lives alone.
He explained that the object in front of him was a little shrine. He uses it to prepare the opium that he makes an infusion with and drinks every day as part of a religious ceremony.
On the wall above his head I noticed some paintings. I asked who did them. His daughter did all of the painting at his home.
I was given permission to photograph his home, so I got up and looked around.
The way to the kitchen.
This was one of the nicest village homes I had seen. And the paintings were lovely.
We thanked the blind man for his time and drove back to the main highway to drop off Roop. Although Roop had said he would not charge for guiding us around, I had secretly discussed with Prem how much to give him when he was wrapping up my purchases earlier. Prem gave me an idea of what a one-day guiding fee would be. It wasn’t much, so I doubled it. Roop was surprised and happy to accept. And Prem seemed proud of me!