My cousin brother is a bhat-maam (priest) in the small konkan town of Honavar, 15 miles south of Kumta. His parents had insisted he get a college degree – so after his BA in Economics he still decided to follow their priestly traditions. They live in spartan accommodations beside the temple. I have fond memories of visiting them during my school summer vacations. Every morning we herded cows to a distant pasture. There we would bathe in a local stream! O, what joys for a city brat. Now I only visit during my India trips and don't herd cows. Can't forget my roots, which need constant nourishing!
His daughter, Dhanya is the cutest girl I have seen. Here I had to interrupt her doodling on the kitchen floor. The beam of light is from a makeshift skylight. A couple of terracotta tiles in the roof are replaced with a sheet of glass. Wisps of smoke are from the burning wood embers used for cooking. They have a gas cooking range, but my aunt grew up using a wood fire and rarely uses the range. The old-style door has a sliding latch and the open pantry is lined with steel dabbas.
What do you need to be happy? You'd be right if you guessed – a divine daughter and a row of mithai-filled dabbas! I am currently batting zero for a million!