JAI has been travelling in the harsh wintry desert for 7 days and 7 nights when he chanced upon the tribal home of 2 Banjara gypsies, RoSanNa and Rolla (a.k.a. Walter).
A slight digression here. I have given a very brief write up of these gypsies at Day 35 but there is more. The Banjaras, aka the Root Gypsies of the Earth are sturdy, ambitious and light skinned. Although they originated from India, their descendants eventually travelled to as far away places as Europe. As some of you may know by now, centuries later, (you see this is the 1800s), the descendants of Rosanna and Walter will eventually settle down in Genoa, Italy.
Back to our story..
Rosanna and Walter treat Jai with the hospitality meant for royalty. They let him wash and rest and then feast on Rosanna's great gypsy speciality which she calls "SiPaGati".
Much to Jai's delight, he discovers that RoSanNa also makes the most exquisite pillows. Oh, Maya will be so delighted if I can bring her what must be the finest embroidery on the entire Silk Route, Jai thought.
"Look at that handiwork", he mutters as he switches the arrangement of the pillows around. "Look at these vibrant colours. I am so amazed! They match no matter how you put them!" "Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant" He exclaims repeatedly.
"I chose the colours from a sari: See, I am wearing it now" RoSanNa explains"I wanted to get the right effect and so I copied the tones and flowers from a wedding sari. Please, accept them as my gifts to you, handsome stranger." RoSaNa blushes as she offers generously.
"I will be so honoured," Jai says happily. "Please accept these tea pots as my token. They are handmade from China. They are but a humble exchange compared to these treasures from you but my camels will be pleased to off-load them here" Jai adds with a laugh.
And so Rosanna and Walter help Jai pack the beddings and pillows and that huge bed he has just carved from the purest white marble onto the camels.
"Look RoSanNa, you are really good at this. You should consider opening a shop selling your work. You will be rich!" Jai says to RoSanNa. What he does not realise is that RoSanNa has already thought of that. If you look closely, you can actually see the name of her shop on the bags she packs for Jai.
As you can see, the Banjaras are also great traders.
And so, Jai continues his journey , heading toward an island outpost of China, now known as Taiwan where the East India Company has just set up a trading port, turning this sleepy aboriginal village into a much sought after commercial centre.
But Taiwan is really really far and not even on the silk route. I wonder if my camel humps are big enough for this long long ride, Jai worries, as he looks ahead and sees no Taiwan.
And as the night turns wintrier and the desert wind grows harsher, Jai becomes more disheartened.
I must rest and shake this despondence or I will never make it.
Unpacking his camel, he lays his newly carved bed with velvet sheets and a genuine black-stallion-skin rug. I know its genuine because this is where he got the rug--->
And as he puts his tired head to rest on those wonderful pillows, he drifts off to sleep quickly
Maya! Dear sweet Maya! Jai whispers as Maya sings, like a nightingale, lulling Jai to deeper sleep. And lo and behold,
even RoSanNa and Walter are here, accompanying Maya in her song with RoSanNa on her sitar and Walter in baritone..
Now even Jai starts singing in his sleep..he is singing his praises to RoSanNa. Thank you, Rosanna, he sings tunelessly, thank you for your magical pillows that give me such sweet dreams...
TO BE CONTINUED..