Two days with Bhagat Ji and snakes

Bhagat Ji and the invisible snakes

The last two days it has been me and Bhagat Ji and snakes here on the farm. Mickey has gone to see his sister for a festival of The Sister. He was most apologetic about having to go leaving me alone, and even invited me to go with him to meet his mum and sister and all the kids. After a little discussion we decided that it was probably best if I stayed behind. His mum doesn’t speak english and I’d have felt like a prune. So I’m here alone and I don’t mind 🙂 It has given me a chance to get to know Bhagat Ji a little.

I was made to promise that I wouldn’t stray from the road outside the house. Mickey feels responsible for my safety. Not that there is much to fear except snakes. This is the monsoon season and when the rain comes the snakes vacate their holes or drown. There is one rule here on the farm, all doors are to be kept shut so that snakes don’t enter the house. Apparently there are cobras in this area.

More invisible snakes

I have to say that I haven’t seen any snakes yet which is good in a way but I’d love to get some video. I’m sure that the opportunity will present itself. So I have spent the time writing these blog posts on my tablet in the absence of my Mac, taking photos and eating lovely food. This morning it was bhindi and chapatis for breakfast. Bhindi is also known as okra or ladies fingers. They are one of my favourite vegetables so I was happy.

My computer has been repaired and will accompany Mickey when he returns from south west Delhi, near the Indira Ghandi airport. Then I’ll have to process these photos and get this text on the blog site. That will take a while because I have the spanish translations to do too.

Maybe snakes

Just in front of the gates of Satya Dhaam Farm is an unused open piece of land. The passing buffalo and cow drawn carts often stop for a bite to eat. The patch is alive with butterflies in the morning. I’ve been out trying to get some photos but they are so quick and erratic in their flight. The best I have been able to get is some video. My little video camera has a WiFi connection so that I can set up the camera and control it from my tablet at a distance. The most common butterfly is a white one, which close up have mother of pearl colours. There are also some little bright yellow ones and some large orange ones. The orange butterflies seem to be the most timid. There are also some tiny grey/brown and lilac ones that are hard to see, they are the size of a thumbnail. I’m guessing there is the odd snake too, sunning itself, but I work on the principle that they are more scared of me than I am of them. So I make a bit of noise and hope they slither off in the opposite direction.

Some of the flora of this area

I’m also going to take the opportunity to write about some of the plants here. Firstly, of course, is the sugar cane. As you can see from the photo they are tied up with leaves. This is to stop them falling over which would make the harvesting harder. The cane is grown from cuttings from the first year’s growth, sugar cane has a two year cycle. Two “knuckles” are taken and planted. The cutting strikes roots and the next crop is on its way. A calculation is made as to how many plants will be needed for next year’s crop and the appropriate amount of cane is put aside. The first year’s cane is harvested in late December – March and second years growth is October – December. (For those that want more information, here is a link.) A vehicle with weighing scales parks outside the gates here during the harvest season, where the buffalo and cows breakfast. The local farmers bring their cane for weighing and payment. The cane is then shipped off to the sugar mill up in Simbhaoli for processing.

curry leaves but no snakes
Curry leaves
This plant is called, in english, curry leaves. It has nothing to do with curry per se other than it is used as a seasoning. It grows wild and has a slightly bitter, peppery taste. A lot of Indian cooking will use this plant as a flavouring.

lentils or dal no snakes
Lentils or dal
These plants are dal, or lentils to us Europeans. There really isn’t need to write more.

Jamun or Portuguese plum
Jamun tree
Unfortunately this Jamun tree has come to the end of it’s season so that there aren’t many fruit left to see. Jamun means “purple” in hindi. In english the tree is sometimes called Java plum, Malabar plum or Portuguese plum. There are plenty of fruit on the ground 🙁 It is a small cherry like fruit that has a slightly bitter/sweet taste. I am told that it is good for diabetes. Here is an Indian site that deals with Jamun farming. The Jamun tree has been introduced to many countries such as Brazil and Hawaii. In the latter it has become invasive.

Neem tree and berries
The neem tree I mentioned in this post, but for those that want more details you can find it here. In general neem seems to be a useful medicinal plant but I have included here a link with possible side effects. If you are in doubt it’s probably best to consult your doctor or an alternative healer. They say where there is neem there are no mosquitoes. I once thought of trying to bring neem to Spain, I figured it could have been a commercial proposition in the right areas. But now, having met the tree in its natural environment I think Spain would be too dry.

So, as you can see, really the only thing that I can find here that could be classed as dangerous are snakes 😀 and I still haven’t seen one. That said, we’ve just had a mighty monsoon downpour so maybe some will pop round for a photo call?

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