Just a 15-minute jeep ride from Kausani and then a 25-minute foot march we have found our little nest in the mountains. We are renting a house here in Naughar (which means nine houses) – a scattered collection of dwellings at the foothills of the Himalaya. When we were in Kausani last week together with Simone and his family, we started looking for a place to hang out for a while. We visited the two houses we had considered renting through AirBnB when we were still back home in Turkey. They suddenly seemed ridiculously expensive. Nice, but too nice, actually. Too Western. Too familiar. We also looked at a cute house right in Kausani town. More rustic, we could make it cosy. But then somehow Kausani (which is no more than a mini town with a bazaar, a few restaurants and hotels) seemed too urban as well. We used our time-tested Mayan Pre-visualization technique* and realized that we would probably all get bored very quickly.
And so we returned to that magic little, tucked away spot of terraced valleys and cedar-forested hills, that Simone had discovered a few years ago and decided that this was it. We started asking around, convincing the slightly bewildered, always smiling villagers that we are not looking for comfort or service – just for an empty room or two to be at peace for a while.
Since a few days now, we occupy an empty little hut adjacent to Reba’s house. Reba lives alone with her 15-year old daughter Preety (who is indeed pretty). She has already adopted Timo, who helps her collect firewood and feed the animals. Traditionally built of stone and mud, with low ceilings and earthen floors, our new home has 2 storeys, of which we occupy the top floor. On the ground floor (with the windows and doors as clean and neatly painted blue as upstairs) lives Sundari, the buffalo. In fact, we are surrounded by animals – Reba’s animals. There is the milk-giving, but grumpy buffalo and Belle, the ox. Two little goats – Setuli and Komal and Simpy, the cat (who likes yoghurt and curls up by the kitchen fire) complete the family. As the house is on a rather steep hill, all household members roam the 20 or so square meters of flat ground in front of the house. A small vegetable garden and rather generous stone terrace (which serves as sun-deck, outdoor kitchen, wash-room and hangout for passing curious neighbors) round up the picture.
Reba and I cook in turns (she might be slighly better with all the squatting and open fire cooking, but we, in turn have brought some pretty exciting stuff (like onions and tomatoes). And while our new abode is simple and basic, we all feel comfortable and happy. There are colorful posters of Hindi gods on the walls for Iluka to admire, there are enough hooks on the walls and little makeshift benches to keep our stuff organized (the German contingent in the family tries hard…) and within 30 minutes of our arrival we found an ingenious youngster who, with a few (potentially unsafe) moves, connected an electric wire to two bare light bulbs. Upon Matthieu’s suggestion he even installed a plug to keep our Macbook, iPhone and camera batteries fresh and ready, because let’s face it: We might not need running water, but where would we be without our 3G Airtel India wireless hotspot?
* The MPVT is not so much about living in the moment, I admit, but still gives valuable insight into possible future scenarios.