When in Almora, a must visit is the little shop of Lala Joga Lal Sah in the narrow bazaar. Widely reputed to be the inventor of Bal Mithai, the favourite sweet cake covered with homeopathic-like sugar pills from the hills, Lala ji opened our minds to another dimension on a recent visit.
While the shutters were down, I noticed a neatly cut window (red circle) in the store shutters, the sharp edges made rounded with tape. What was that for, I wondered, until he pointed to a little nest of Barn Swallows nesting near the roof. “They are nesting in the shop and the parent birds need to fly in and out at all times, to feed their young,” he explained. As one flew over my head, straight into the nest, I queried that would it not compromise the safety of his sweets. He laughed off my question, saying, “These friends visit every year. I’ll keep the door open, whatever happens…”