Like a tin wind-up toy, the food server danced toward us in near frantic rhythm.
Sweating a little, and worried that my scarf has slipped too far off my hairline for propriety, I watched him from my seat on the floor.
Left foot sideways. Ladle in the bucket. Right foot sideways and back. Ladle out. Left foot forward, and, plop!, a deposit of green pea curry in the metal tray of the Sikh woman in front of him.
She sat cross-legged with her family on the long woven mat with her dishes in front of her, like me and Dan, just one of the thousands of hungry who come to the Amritsar Golden Temple's langar, or community kitchen.
I can't watch the pea curry guy for long though, because someone is coming with water to pour in the metal bowl in front of me, and another man is coming with the chapati basket. All of the scurrying servers, cleaners and cooks are volunteers.
They have to rush--hordes of people wait for every twenty-minute seating. After our quickly eaten meal of curry, dal, rice pudding and chapati, the diners carried their trays, bowls and spoons out to the communal dish washing area. I have never seen dishes washed so religiously.
Leaving the area to the hand washing station, groups of men and women clustered on the floor peeling onions and garlic for a future meal.
We visited the Golden Temple to try to get a picture of Sikhism, a religion from Northwest India. Sikh men are easily recognizable by the large, tightly wrapped turbans they wear.
From what we gathered from the museum and other reading, in general Sikhs believe in community service and standing up for the poor. They are fierce soldiers and have no caste system. The founder of the religion mixed some Hindu and some Muslim beliefs with his own workaday spiritualism.
As nice as it was at the Golden (as in real gold!) Temple with it's huge pond for ritual purification and laid-back shady colonnades, we weren't in love with Amritsar city itself and decided to press on to the Himalayan foothills after only a few days there.
**Click here to see photos from the Golden Temple.**