Blogs from Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, Asia


Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai February 2nd 2019

There’s India. And then there’s India. I went on a quest. To find the real India. Whatever that is. In Madurai I met an auto rickshaw driver, Anand, who enjoys taking foreigners around. So we were off—early mornings and evenings. “I’m done with the big temples. I want to see the temples and shrines of folk deities, Ayannar and Karuppana Swami, the small places, the common places. Villages.” He seemed to know them all. The surprises came in their simplicity, their locations, their power. Over gravely roads, through fields of waving sugarcane, dense plots of banana trees, coconut palms gracing the skyline, pools of water settling in the rice paddies. Villagers went about their daily business—men hung out at the local tea shop, reading the newspaper, chatting, chatting. Women carried water pots on their heads—water sometimes ... read more
Rocky landscape at Arittapatti
pots and man

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 21st 2018

November 21, 2018 (Madurai, India) Aravind has many visitors and they treat them graciously, providing housing in the Aravind guest house, with driver services to where we needed to go. Traffic seems tame compared with Dhaka, but there's plenty of cow-dodging, pot-hole swerving, and eluding tuk-tuks/bikes/pedestrians that a driver is a must. Those guys have quick reflexes, drive aggressively with a defensive approach using their horns to communicate with any potential casualty. The house isn't far from the main Aravind campus, but they insisted on driving us - nobody wants a guest lost or injured on their shift! The house provided breakfast lunch and dinner except on Sundays and had laundry services for a fee. There was internet service (most of the time) and good air conditioning. The rooms were large, beds comfortable and hot showers. ... read more
Dining Room and Kitchen (background)

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 21st 2018

November 21, 2018 (Madurai, India) Cataract surgery is quite structured and one of the most common surgeries performed. An opaque natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial one. There are two primary ways of removing them: 1) manual small incision cataract surgery (MSICS pronounced em-six) and 2) phacoemulsification. In MSICS the lens is removed through a slightly larger incision because it is removed manually. The cataractous lens has a nucleus (which is harder) and an outer layer of softer tissue (cortex). Like a peach, the nucleus would be the seed and the pulp would be the cortex. It is wrapped in a bag that has to be opened but preserved with the opening so the artificial lens can go inside the bag. In phaco surgery, the nucleus is shattered using an ultrasonic tip that ... read more
Cataract surgery

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 19th 2018

November 18, 2018 (Madurai, India) The Thrumalai Naiker Palace is an iconic facility designed by an Italian architect and built in 1636 by king Thrumalai Naiker. Its unique architecture blends the styles of Islamic arches, Hindu statues and cornices with Roman columns. Only a fourth of the original palace remains, and some areas are in disrepair, but overall an impressively preserved unique structure.... read more
Columns and arches
Panoramic view
Lotus leaf emblems

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 19th 2018

November 19, 2018 (Madurai, India) Busy and interesting day today, focused on the Aravind Eye Hospital system . Our first meeting of the day included a presentation by Aravind staff on the overall system. There are multiple layers of services centered around eye hospitals like the one in Madurai. These are called tertiary hospitals and include all subspecialties of ophthalmology. They now have six of these hospitals in southern India. They also run six secondary hospitals, which focus on cataract surgery and advanced diagnostics – referring advanced cases to the tertiary hospitals. They then have 72 vision centers – community based clinics run by mid-level ophthalmic practitioners (MLOPs) in villages that have no eye care in their proximity. These link the MLOP via telemedicine to ophthalmologists to make final treatment and recommendation decisions.... read more
Family waiting area
Vision Testing
Refraction station

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 18th 2018

November 18, 2018 (Madurai, India) We left Dhaka and it took the better part of the day Saturday to get to Madurai, located in Tamil Nadu province in southern India. Landing among a series of thunderheads, the weather here is noticeably warmer and humid than Dhaka. Notably different, we've gone from a Muslim culture to a Hindu culture and into a more developed country which Bangladesh is working toward. The goal here is to visit and research the Aravind Eye Hospitals and its affiliates LAICO (consulting arm for AEH) and AuroLab (manufacturing of ophthalmic supplies/equipment). We are being housed at the Aravind guest house which offer great accommodations near their facilities. Sunday was a day off to explore a bit and I was able to see some of the local sites: the Thrumalai Naiker Pal... read more
Aravind Eye Hospital
The Palace
Banana market

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai November 18th 2018

November 18, 2018 (Madurai, India) The markets are always colorful and busy, with the cacophony of live transactions everywhere as a cross section of society meets to do business, the traffic is struggling to get through the congested streets, the smells challenging the senses and introducing new experiences!... read more
Bananas come in all colors!
Onions and shallots

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai January 16th 2018

Woolly Says – Our evening had been spent back at the palace, unsure what to expect from the advertisement for a light show we took our seats and waited to see what unfolded. As the lights dimmed the throne that sat centre stage was illuminated and loud speakers started to tell the story of how King Thirumalai Nayak built the Palace and some of the tales that they great ruler had been a part of. As the story unfolded different parts of the Palace lit up and the speakers from different areas told of battles and kind acts that he had been a part of during his reign. It wasn’t bad at all although the constant talking in the audience did become a little wearing after a while, most of the spectators had left before the ... read more
Ghandi's Memorial Museum
Lots to read
Ghandi and his wife

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai January 15th 2018

Woolly says – Following yet another cheap but scrumptious meal we had decided to venture into the temple to celebrate Pongal. Our accommodation was nearly next door to the Meenakshi Amman Temple, dedicated to Shiva which dates back to the 6th century. Though the temple has historic roots, most of the present complex was rebuilt after the 14th century and further repaired, renovated and expanded in the 17th century. It looked amazing and given the number of people trying to get inside they were in complete agreement. The usual shoe’s off and bag checking went on and being Pongal, we were told that only money and phones could be taken in, I ignored the fact that mammoths weren’t mentioned and just trotted past the security guards. We stood for a while in a long queue, we ... read more
The West Tower
Not feeling the festival spirit!
Another ceiling

Asia » India » Tamil Nadu » Madurai January 14th 2018

Chance encounters. I don’t think so. The young man on the scooter stopped next to me as I trudged down the Madurai street. “Excuse me, can I help you? Are you lost? You look so depressed, is everything alright?” His English rolled my way and I smiled. I had just seen him at the ATM machine behind me as I sat at the side of the road. I was saying goodbye to my street dog. She had remembered me from last year when I rescued her puppy from a skin wound in the top of its head. After the rescue, she followed me on the street. She always welcomed my touch as I scratched her chin and ears. So I suppose I was a little depressed, as I sat there at the ATM, stroking her dirty ... read more
Abu, with a smile that radiates joy
Back to street life for Zelda.

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