6. January 2017 – 13:00
A love that defies the unwritten laws of the caste system
Rekha and Rishi seem to be a normal Indian couple, in a normal Indian home in Jodhpur.
When we are picked up by Rishi by his motor- rickshaw from our hotel to take part in a cooking class with his wife Rekha, we meet a friendly rickshaw driver, with good English.
Their house also seems typical. On the lower floor we get to know Rishi’s parents, then we go up to the roof into a brand new kitchen, where Rekha is already waiting for us.
Rekha greets us and starts preparing a Saffran Lassi, an Indian rich yogurt drink with real saffron, rose water and silver leaves!
Rekha guides us through the cooking course like a full professional, with very good English and excellent cooking skills. Later, she explains that she even took a professional cooking course to get a certificate for her cooking class.
While we cook through the most varied dishes (Briyani, a “tomato-paneer-curry”, a cabbage dish, Indian snacks, bread and desserts) Rishi also joins us in the kitchen.
The mere fact of finding an Indian man in the kitchen surprises me a lot. Normally, Indian men are more likely to avoid this part of the house and leave cooking to women.
Rishi also has little to do with cooking and tenderly puts an arm around his wife and starts a chat with us.
He and Rekha married 10 years ago. At that time, the two went to college and fell in love.
But their chances of a common future were very poor, as Rishi came from a much lower caste than Rekha, the families of the two would never agree for a marriage.
But Rishi and Rekha, like only few other lovers in India, were brave and secretly married, against the will of their parents.
There were only a few close friends present at the wedding, but they did not dare to be in the wedding photo, fearing be seen and blamed for this inappropriate marriageof their friends.
The families of the newlyweds were horrified when they heard about the wedding and Rekha’s father tried to make his daughter getting divorced, but Rekha refused.
The two were abandoned by the families and had to drop out of their studies in order to pay for their own maintenance.
For several years they lived in a tiny apartment. While Rekha took care of the household, Rishi worked as a simple labour.
Rekha told us how bad things were for her at the time. Nobody wanted to have to do anything with them, no one helped them. They were struggeling to survive.
But Rishi eventually began his work as a rickshaw driver. He drove foreign tourists through Jodhpur and learned not only English, but could also save money to get his own little motor rickshaw.
When their two children were born, they more or less reconciled with their parents. Their marriage is not considered good, but now at least tolerated.
Rekha and Rhishi moved into the house of Rishi’s family and built their own little home on the roof.
Rekha’s parents live within walking distance and Rekha visits them with their children from time to time. However, theRishi- the low cast- is still not wanted there and is not allowed to enter the house. He is also not allowed to take part in family celebrations.
But Rishi and Rekha’s love for each other makes them strong. Especially in the traditional Rajasthan, there are not many love marriages.
Together they fought hard for their dream, a private cooking school for foreign tourists, and are becoming more and more successful with the little business.
Their success does not surprise me, because Rekha is not only a stunning cook, but the two are also incredibly good hosts. During the hours at their home, we felt less like customers, but much more like friends. Eternally until late in the evening we sat with the two and their children, laughed and learned a lot.
Rekha and Rishi were very open and shared their live-story with us. We were proudly guided through their small home and were initiated into future plans. And we enjoyed our delicious dishes.
Thank you Rekha and Rishi for this great evening. I wish you all the best and hope that you can be a shining example for other Indian lovers!
Of course, in the next few weeks I will introduce some of the recipes here on my blog. But you should visit them yourself and leanr some indian dishes! You can find them on Tripadvisor under “Incredible Krishna Cooking Workshop”.