The next village we visited consisted of the Jat community, Muslim herders of prized buffalo. As our bus pulled into the village, our driver Raji, immediately jumped out of his door and into the arms of the awaiting village greeter. With tears in their eyes, the embraced warmly for some time, stopping every now and then to look in each other's eyes. Later the story was told: Raji was born into a Rabari community of Hindu herders and as a 10 year old boy, he had met and become friends with a Jat boy who now happened to be a village leader.. They had not seen each other in over 20 years... this was their first reunion. The village elders, when we were having tea and examining textiles, told us that Raji is the brightest of 1000 stars and proof that there is no difference between Muslim and Hindu. Touring their post-monsoon encampment was fascinating and delightful as children followed us around and then scampered away screaming when we "spied" them, only to repeat the game over and over again with giggles. (Truth be told, some of the tiny children were frightened to tears by these pale interlopers and others tried to pull their mothers away.)
After a stop for lunch, we headed south to the beach at Mondvi where I am writing this. We are in a peaceful seaside resort, quite and serene, sleeping in elegant tents and enjoying western plumbing. It's good to have a quiet day. Tomorrow we drive all day to return to Ahmedabad and I will try to post some photos there -- assuming the Sheraton has decent wifi.