Soban’s face has the mother love of India shining through it.
Her veil comes off and on, off and on, curious and coy, respectful and shy. She is a graceful cook, her kitchen as clear and sweet as her smile. Vijay, a nobleman, was relaxed and happy to share his home and family stories. Udaipur has a long history of palaces and princes. The uncle, charming and entertaining was pleased to have guests and another opportunity to eat his favorite dishes. Karan, the son, stepped right from the the lineage of old photos of Rajput princes, yet was eager to help translate for his mother in the kitchen. The nephew from another brother, sweet and talkative, was the youngest player on India’s polo team. He recently lost his father and lives now with his aunt, uncle and cousin. Soban could mother the world. “When the boys find their wives, you’ll be invited to the wedding”, said Vijay. I’m most excited and honored. Indian weddings are legendary.
The house was well appointed, yet simple. Family photographs of a different time and dress covered the walls. The house has screen doors and fans, a passion of mine and welcomed respite from too much air conditioning. When it’s 100 degrees most of the time, the extreme temperatures don’t jive. Sowan’s kitchen had two burners, old marble counters, a terracotta water jug, a spice cabinet and sink. She taught me “ladyfingers with tomato sauce and spices” and “spinach palak.” The meal was elaborate, yet the table was simply set. The conversation was marvelous and we really hit it off. Sowan glided from dining room to kitchen in her beautiful saree, yet one hardly noticed. It was like a flash of color there but not there, quite like her veil. I learned that okra is not only a southern vegetable and I took a spice tin home by surprise. I had complimented her on hers, and the next thing I knew I had one “to go.” I left quite touched in many ways.