Anyways, being sick on the first day was too bad because we specifically left with Ajay because I wanted to spend as much time walking around and exploring as I could. Once we crossed the tracks, we drove straight past the Dornakal cathedral to the boys hostel where we were staying. Aakash and I had the exact same room I stayed at on our previous trips. Poor Aakash, I don’t think he was at all prepared for the full Dornakal experience. We pulled in and were immediately inundated with the bravest of the boys who, though they did carry all of our luggage for us, continued to knock on our door and peek through our windows until we closed everything. The room was exactly as I remember it, although they may have added a third cot to the no longer double bed. The bathroom had the same disgustingly grungy tile, the water faucet leaked into the waist high tub of water, and I believe it was the same toilet, although I didn’t recall it not being able to flush. Ah the rugged Indian life. After getting some of my sickness out by the tracks, I was feeling better, so we went on a short walk past the cathedral and through the compound our house was in. But the last time I was in Dornakal, I was twelve, so although I THOUGHT it was the compound, I wasn’t quite sure. There was a water pump in the middle of the compound and, as my aunts who visited a few years back told me, the house yard was completely changed, so I wasn’t able to tell which house was ours. We then walked past the guesthouse that I remember twelve goat heads lined outside of for Indu’s wedding and towards some other buildings. We ended up walking into a school for the deaf and getting a tour by the headmistress. She asked us why we were in Dornakal and in addition to remembering Dad, I found out she was a student of Peddanaanna’s!
I spent the rest of the night in bed and Aakash spent the evening getting to know my male cousins. It seems they took good care of him. The next day, I woke up feeling much better and after eating a few garas and showering with the water someone heated in a big pot over a fire in the hostel courtyard, I walked to Peddanaanna’s old school to see how the cooking was coming along. Our sheep friend had met his death early that morning, but neither of us were willing to get up to watch. I spent the first hour meeting people who remembered me as a child, and when Aakash arrived, we piled into a car with Indu, her kids, and Peddamma, and drove to the cemetery. The ride was a bit of a riot, because neither Indu or Peddamma were certain of how to get there, but we finally found the way. Dornakal is where both of my Abba and Jeji (Grandpa and Grandma) were buried as well as my dad’s sister Mary. Pranu and her kids came too. It had been a long time since I had been in that cemetery but it felt special to go. Afterwards, we piled into the vehicles again and went to visit the ancestral home, as Aakash calls it.
Going to the house at the compound was definitely interesting, although I have to pity the poor people who live there now. They didn’t have any idea that in the morning, almost twenty Bunyans would barge in without knocking to look around the house and critic the entire property! But barge and critic we did. (One poor woman was stuck in the bathroom the entire time because we arrived during her shower!) And we all talked about how much better the house was when we were there! The front gate is gone and there’s no garden or shaded sitting area anymore. It looks very rundown and not pretty. The inside has been remodeled a bit. Back in the day, when you walked into the front room, there was a TV room to the left, which now has a dividing wall and the second portion is now the kitchen. The backyard is now just an overgrown mess and the door through the back gate is now bricked over. It definitely looks less up kept, and obviously it feels sad to see it not how we remembered it. But the tiled roof is still the same. The well in the alley by the house is mostly overgrown with plants now and I’m unsure if they use it at all. Needless to say, it was special to visit it again, especially with Indu and Pranu.
After the function, we ate, packed our things, and headed to the train station. Aakash and I walked, crossing the bridge over the tracks. There were dozens and dozens of monkeys, just as I remember. I was a bit bummed that since I was sick the previous day, we didn’t get a chance to walk around the bazaar, but the train turned out to be an hour late, so we end up having time to walk around a bit. The train home was uneventful, especially because Sanchu and Theron (Pranu’s older kids) all went home with Indu in their car, so it was very peaceful.
The rest of our time in Hyderabad was very nice. Aakash and I spent an afternoon visiting the Charminar and a mosque in old Hyderabad and got Iranian chai. We slept at both Indu and Prashu’s house so we could spend time with everyone. On our last day, Prashu and family took us to a park by the lake and we watched the sunset. There’s a carnival there, so Melissa played a few games and Aakash and I had some fun at a nearby arcade. Hyderabad is much cleaner and quieter than Kolkata, so it felt relaxing.
The next day we left for Kerala, but I think I’ll save that for another email because I have much to tell you about boats, elephants, treks, and prawn bigger then our heads. I hope you’re all doing well and I will email you again soon!