Wed, 25/11/2009 – Jude Fanton

Udaipur, Rajasthan: We are stunned, even amazed, to arrive in this apparent fairyland of lakes, palaces, in the desert with night spectacles decorated by men in large orange turbans and beauties clothed in the brightest of colours studded with glitter. Our webmaster, John Brisbin, organised two evening feasts, one for 600 in a village, the other for 108 town dwellers and NGO staff on the edge of Udaipur Lake.

All food was vegetarian and made from locally harvested cereals, vegies and spices prepared with Ayurvedic precepts. Deep and rich fire-cooked flavours at sunset in large tents on leaf plates. Chapattis and papadams made of millets, corn, amaranth, chutneys of coriander, mint and garlic, weeds as spinach, buttermilk soup, chilli and spices in excess throughout. Only small amounts necessary as flavours and satisfaction are so early and strong.


IMAGE Women preparing weed greens for the village feast


Of course behind the gloss we find poverty, more chemicals and hybrids being used, lack of sanitation, infant mortality, although on the decline, and dust.

On top of that I have a toothache that has come and gone over the last three days. It afforded an interesting study of traditional remedies when we went to stay out in a village for two days, hosted by an organisation that promotes these cures. The ache was successfully treated with a traditional mouthwash made from a herbal powder bought from a woman looking like a gypsy, clove oil to put on the gums, chewing sticks made from the all-curing neem tree and chewing on ginger and amla, a wild fruit fresh from the tree.

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