Shipshewana. A place in northern Indiana, that is never on the map of any vacationer. Northern Indiana is a quiet rural area. Huge fields with a house or two in them. Small villages occasionally passed us as we drive on the US20 state highway. Shipshewana is one of them. The village is known for its Amish population. The people who do not use phones, internet, TVs or automobiles. These are wheat and maize farmers with a simple and religious lifestyle. It’s not really Disney-land. But, I wanted a leisure vacation and this was the perfect place. Rather than a hasty sightseeing trip, I prefer soaking in, in the sounds and smells and sights of the place. Watching people go by. Talking to some of them.
Amish food is mostly non-vegetarian. Being vegetarians, we found ourselves eating salad and Mac-and-cheese. Too bland for an Indian couple. My wife insisted on having spicy food for dinner. No matter what. I laughed at her when she started searching for an Indian restaurant, nearby. Impossible, I thought. A remote all-American village. So small that I thought these people may know each other’s names.
Surprise! She found one. Only half an hour away in Goshen downtown. We reached there in the evening hoping to feel the vibe of the city we had never been to. As we entered the downtown, there was no one in sight. The streets were empty. No one walking. No cars. Wow! Tranquility. No noise. No people. Life in the slow lane. I was looking for such a vacation. My wife’s GPS found the Indian restaurant.
A nice lady seated us. She oversaw our convenience and recommended their best dish. It was decent food for the only Indian restaurant in at least a seventy-mile radius. We went on to pay after the dinner.
“How was the food?” the lady asked politely with a smile.
“It was great! Thank you”, I said.
“You guys from around here? I have seen you for the first time.”
“Oh yeah. We came here to Shipshewana. It’s our first time here.” I said sounding normal.
“Wow! That is great! My husband is an Indian. It’s hard to find someone to talk to here. Now that you have moved here, we can be family friends.”
“Oh no no… I mean, yes, we could be family friends…. But we haven’t moved in here. We are on a vacation.
“In Shipshewana? WHY?” the lady asked with raised brows. She was not able to comprehend why someone would come there for tourism.
“We wanted to explore the Amish country. Take some rest. It’s fascinating how they live without internet…”
“And you are here just for this?” the lady asked again, cutting my sentence.
“Yeah…,” I said with a ‘isn’t it obvious’ look.
“My husband has business around here. That’s why we have to stay here. This place is boring. No people. No friends. No social life. I wish I would be living in a big city with bustling streets. Where people are seen walking on the streets. Vehicles on roads.” she said looking at the wall above me with her upper lip tucked in her lower one, as if, her mind was already in such a place.
Amazing how grass is greener on the other side. I learnt something that day. Someone was hoping to live the life I am living. When I have moments that make me hate my life, I remember that there is someone who would do anything to experience what I call everyday problems. With bunch of friends and colleagues to talk to and laugh with, I do have a great life. The restaurant lady thinks it is wonderful. I do agree.