The attractions of a small town are many when you’re from a village. Priya and Anku were happy to go shopping because it meant they got out of a day’s chores around the house.
Yet another temple wasn’t worth a passing glance to the family, who has probably seen it before. Prem, with his tour guide sensibilities, pointed it out to me. I noticed the colors and how nicely the scene was framed. But there was hunting (shopping) to do, and I didn’t want to go in.
Sarkaghat looked like any other small Indian town: crowded business district with buildings very close together. Narrow streets, no sidewalks, open drains.
Shops were all open fronted with garage-door-type roll down doors to lock up at night.
Meena and the kids went to buy clothes and a few other things. I suggested we split up because I was going very slowly, looking at everything and taking pictures. If we had all gone at my pace, it would have taken forever. Prem and I looked in a general store for a flashlight. No flashlight here, but I got a bar of laundry soap.
Hey, let’s run up and down this terrifying staircase a few dozen times. Or not.
We found a flashlight, then Prem needed to add minutes to his phone. We stopped at a phone store, and Prem said I could use the internet there. It seemed like an odd sort of internet cafe service, to be in a mobile phone store. They handed me the store’s laptop and had me sit at a makeshift desk with a wobbly chair not the right height. I hadn’t been able to get online for a week at this point, so however odd it was, it didn’t matter. When I went to pay after finishing my emails, the young man said there was no charge, that he was happy to be of service. Turned out he was a friend of Prem’s and was just being nice!
Finished with our shopping, we headed back home. There was one last stop. We pulled over at this tiny store on the way back. Meena needed some cauliflower, herbs and a few other things. We didn’t even need to get out of the car. Prem called the order out the window. The man wrapped everything in newspaper and brought it to the car.