18 March 2007

Walk in the Sun

This morning I had an appointment with my dentist at the Clinic, Rangammal Hospital and instead of taking an auto for the 3 km distance, decided to have a leisurely walk through the Arunachala countryside. This area is still unspoilt and has my favourite view of the South Side of the Hill.

Although Summer has started it was a lovely day; very toasty without being headaching hot that the later summer will be during the mid-day sun. So off I went. First thing I saw was a bunch of goats in their coral which was surrounded by thorny bushes. Goats have a much better life than cows in this area and spend most of the day with their goat herders ranging all over local waste land and only at night and early morning are put in their corals. Whereas the poor cows get tied up the whole time.

Next thing I spotted was a Tsunami colony home to people that were affected during the tsunami tidal wave a couple of years back. The colony is being developed by Terre Homme Trust and I expect to be be getting more information on the colony which I will post soon.

The below photograph is of a family cooking up a nice snack on a sunny Sunday mid-day. Here the two kids are on holiday from school, so its time to spend with Dad.

The next photograph is of a couple of bullocks having a nice munch in front of their home, in front of which the chilli is drying out in the sun. Alot of chilli in this area is in fact locally produced and is an essential ingredient of Indian cooking!

Below, more evidence of Sunday, and no-school. A bunch of lads just taking a stroll. A really nice bunch of kids.

In India, especially in the countryside, folk just love sitting on their verandah, watching the world go by. Sadly, now with the advent of cable TV, there doesn't seem to be as much communal spirit as before. I remember one evening walking through a residential area of Ramana Nagar during a power-cut. The area was pitch-black and most people were sitting outside their homes chatting with one another and getting along. However, immediately the power went back on, most of the folk stopped their conversation in mid-sentence and went back into their homes to their 60+ channel international cable TV. Sometimes with the prosperity that allows the purchase of, what would have previously been considered a luxury item (e.g. colour TV), there are some very serious downsides!

The little thatched house looked really pretty amongst the trees, specially with the lovely chestnut colour cow in the foreground.

Here is a potmaker off to town to sell his wares. He makes kitchen utensils out of aluminium. He purchases aluminum in sheets and then beats and molds the sheet into pot shapes of varying sizes. He told me that the giant pot at the bottom of the pile took a whole day to make. Hope he makes some good sales in town.

Two gents hanging around near the village centre. Even five years ago the common form of transportation in Tiruvannamalai was the bicycle. However with the introduction of finance companies and instalment purchasing, just about everyone seems to have a motorbike. Again not necessarily a good thing.

A farm growing jasmine flowers that will probably be used for making garlands for worship or even to adorn the ladies. As is the case in most Asian countries, ladies in India usually wear flowers in their hair, however in this country, they wear the flowers at the back of the head not near or behind the ears like other Asian cultures. I remember hearing an older Indian lady chiding a younger one for wearing flowers near the front of her head, 'just like a small girl'.

I really like this thatched roof. I went inside the hut and the lady told me that it was completely water-proof. It must be so because the inside of the cottage was electrified and had sockets and appliances everywhere. A thatched roof like this will last up to 7 years and it will really help in cooling down the temperature in the house.

Some Tamarind Trees on the right side of the countrylane. I will write a separate post later on about this tree which I find a fascinating subject. Specially the ghost supersition associated with it throughout Tamil Nadu.

I could feel this man's pain as he was running with his heavy load which will probably be used for feeding for his livestock. His knees were almost buckling with the weight of his load and I could sense that he didn't dare stop and unburdened himself for a rest, because then he would never have got back the courage to put the dreadful weight back on his head!

I believe in North India, specially in places like Calcutta things are different, and there you often see men carrying heavy loads on their heads, but here at Tiruvannamalai and all over Tamil Nadu, its nearly always the woman who carries the load on their head. Sadly this is responsible for a lot of health problems at even a young age. A local doctor was telling me about the dreadful health complications for ladies working on construction sites, and being forced to carry bricks and other construction material on their heads.

As to the man in the picture, I was so interested in his progress that I waited to see whether he would get home in one piece, and I can happily report he made it back safely and with his cargo intact.

I'm on the homestretch now on the way back to my house and such a lovely view to welcome me back. A perfect morning's walk in the sun.

Its quiet and peaceful and it seems a million miles away from the hustle and bustle of just a few kilometres and the town. When inside the town of Tiruvannamalai its difficult to realise just how small it is. In this respect, its fascinating to climb to the top of Arunachala and look around and realise just how much outlaying countryside is still unspoilt and pristine. And long may it remain so!


Rajeev said...

I like your trip to the dentist through the Arunachala countryside.I love the place and had been there to perform the Girivalam two months back.I look forward to your blogs on Tiruvannamalai.


Arunachala Living said...

I hope you get back soon to perform Girivalam again Rajeev.

Divyakka said...

Wow beautiful, thanks for the story & pics, I felt I was right there in India again! I guess you didn’t have any drilling or filling that day, if you were able to walk the whole distance back! (Great exercise, I am jealous – I cannot walk anywhere outside here as now I both live and work in dangerous gang and crime infested regions.)