Friday, August 28, 2009

Welcome to the 19th century

We've just spent a few days in Hazaribagh, a town in India so completely off the map that visiting there was a bit like stepping back into the Raj. But then, that may just have been the person we were staying with.

Meet Bulu Imam:

Bulu is a true gentleman scholar, in the sense of the gentlemen who used to do all great scholarly research. He has time, and boundless energy, and so has devoted these two things to:
  1. Stopping global warming, especially via coal mining near his home.
  2. Conserving, discovering and studying the prehistoric antiquities of the area near his home
  3. Conserving and studying the current culture, specifically the art, of the area near his home
  4. Dogs, and promoting the Santal dog bread
  5. Sharing his vast knowledge with as many people as he can manage
  6. Writing poetry and prose
  7. Painting
  8. Tiger hunting, or, nowadays that it's no longer leagal or fashionable, telling tiger hunting stories
Not necessarily in that order. Bulu is deeply charming, tells wonderful stories, and knows all about the dogs of his region. After all, they're part of the people's lives here, much in the same way they've always been part of his life, traveling around on hunts and chasing after small game. This is Rosie, his pride and joy, archetype of the Santal breed, save for being just slightly too large:

Bulu's house is large and made of several different outbuildings, including a huge maze-like building build of mud in the traditional style, with all the wonderful built in quirks that a child building a snow fort might add, except more permanent. There's also Bulu's large family's home, a museum of local art, and another outbuilding with a few more rooms where we stayed, all set amdist a gorgeous mossy overgrown tropical garden. Complete with servants (for someone who can barely handle room service, this takes getting used to), meals cooked over an open fire, mosquito nets, huricane lamps, and full libraries, it was a bit like living a very long time ago for a few days. I can't say I agreed with everything, but we got our samples, and enjoyed the company and a bit of rest for a few days. Every bit of India will manage to be different, I think, but this was probably the bit I was expecting least of all.

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