India - Week 4 - Going with the Flow

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December 22nd 2009
Published: December 22nd 2009
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I wasn’t sure what to title this week’s blog. I considered “A Day in the Life in India”, or “Trials and Tribulations” and finally decided on “Going with the Flow”. India is a lesson in acceptance. Time does not exist in India in the same way that it exists in the west. The exercise of planning is at best an exercise in futility, at worst a total waste of time. As relatively short term visitors the lesson in acceptance is relatively easy, for those who choose to remain here it becomes their sadhana or spiritual practice.

We experience this weekly when we have the cottage cleaned and the laundry done. The first laundry experience was perhaps our most interesting. We came home looking forward to the fresh smell of line drying laundry on our roof top only to discover that a local monkey family had some fun tossing the laundry off the line. I still can’t find my green bamboo t-shirt. I am sure some lucky monkey with exceptional taste is playing dress-up with it. Another challenge with the laundry has been the rain and the humidity. For some reason our laundry day never falls on a day when the
Downtown TiruvannamalaiDowntown TiruvannamalaiDowntown Tiruvannamalai

Check out the traffic
sun is shining or there is a nice breeze blowing. The front porch of the cottage is covered with drying laundry a minimum of 3 days a week. Then of course there are the interesting critters that crawl out of the laundry after days on the line. Lucas put on his pyjama pants after they had been on the line for several days only to discover that a big black mama spider had taken up housekeeping in there. Yuck!

Driving in India is another lesson in “going with the flow”. We are enjoying the convenience of a little gas scooter. Imagine me on the back of the scooter, scarf blowing in the wind while Lucas weaves his way through Indian traffic. Well this doesn’t sound to exciting until you consider the traffic. First in theory, we drive on the left side of the road. For some this might be a challenge….. For us no problem…. Except for the fact that there is really no left or right side of the road., there is only the side that will ensure that you get where you are going as quickly as possible. So imagine the equivalent of two lane roads, populated by traffic that includes pedestrians, bicycles, rickshaws, ox carts, cows grazing, cars, big buses and trucks and the ever present vendors selling their wares along the curbs. Traffic lights….. There are a few, but no one pays any attention to them. I am sure there is no word in Hindi or Tamil that is the equivalent of ‘right-of-way” and stop signs are unheard of. And of course the ever present blaring horns. Vehicles actually have signs on their bumpers reminding you to honk to establish your presence, pass or just for the heck of it. Needless to say India roads are noisy! .In the middle of this mayhem…. You can expect the unexpected, like the cow suddenly dashing across the street. It is only by the grace of Arunachula that he did not meet a bus head on. Or the cow herder, chasing his wayward herd down the middle of one of the busiest streets in Tiruvannamalai, on a bicycle while buses, scooters and other vehicles zoomed by. I can’t forget to mention the ever present potholes. Pothole does not describe some of them as they are two feet wide and 1 foot deep. So while weaving in and out of oncoming traffic one must remain alert for the dips in the road. One thing is for sure I will never curse Vancouver traffic again.

Last Sunday goat was on the menu. We decided to try our hand at cooking meat. Every Sunday is meat day in Tiruvannamalai. So off Lucas headed to the butcher/vendor stands at 8 am on Sunday morning. On one side of the road you will find the goat merchants and on the other side are chicken sellers. All are still alive and well, oblivious to the fact that they could be somebody’s dinner. Lucas approached a goat seller, selected a recently slaughtered leg. The leg then went to the butcher sitting on ground with a four inch chopping block in front of him and a knife that resembled a machete. Lucas’ background in the culinary arts came in handy here as he directed the butcher on how to properly cut up the little leg. The next part of the adventure was the cooking of the goat on a two burner stove for Panneer and Suji and the family. Our goat stew and rice wasn’t to bad for a couple of neophytes to this Indian tradition.

Last but not least… let’s talk about the weather. As I said earlier, the rains have come and the days are pretty humid. The temperature hit’s 30 degrees in the day and about 20 at night, so overall, it is quite pleasant. One little challenge has been the intermittent rains. The most fun is being caught in the rain on the scooter. First let me make myself perfectly clear, I LOVE INDIA RAIN! It rains the biggest warmest, drops of water. If you stood still and opened your mouth your thirst would be quenched in seconds. And it drenches you. Within minutes standing still you are soaked through…. But on the scooter it is another story all together. One evening driving home in the rain, in the interest of total acceptance, I spread my arms out fully and at the top of my lungs began to sing… “I am singing in the rain, just singing in the rain…….” The absolute joy of it all and the freedom to just be as “we go with the flow”…..

So next time from India, Christmas - India Style

With Love and Peace

Lucas and Cheryl and all that
Our favourite vendor at the marketOur favourite vendor at the marketOur favourite vendor at the market

Warm, beautiful and her english is fantastic
is Arunachula…..

Additional photos below
Photos: 15, Displayed: 15


The Vegetable MarketThe Vegetable Market
The Vegetable Market

A favourite haunt
Shopping for GoatShopping for Goat
Shopping for Goat

An apt pupil. Lucas explains the fine art of butchering goat
Lunch is ServedLunch is Served
Lunch is Served

Goapa, Lakshmi, Panneer, Suji, Cheryl and Lucas. A first for the family.... They had never gone to a western house for lunch before and Suji had never had a Sunday morning off from cooking the Sunday meal.
Lunch at AHAMLunch at AHAM
Lunch at AHAM

Cooking Indian style
Lunch at AHAMLunch at AHAM
Lunch at AHAM

The cooking team - Lucas, Suji, Cheryl and Munnima
Lunch at AHAMLunch at AHAM
Lunch at AHAM

Lucas and Suji
Lunch at AHAMLunch at AHAM
Lunch at AHAM

A feast is experienced. Lucas, Saroja, Jan, Ramana, Vivian, Peter and Cheryl

22nd December 2009

Hearing your description of India is making me homesick for Kenya. Thank you for sharing your peace within the chaos. Much love to you both. Tanya
29th December 2009

Hi you, What a beautiful story - belated Christmas wishes from the grey west coast. Wish we were there with you! Having said that, we had a lovely 4 day break. Christmas was lovely with Loren and Ray and Will. We actually had three days of sun, so got to get out and had long walks every day. Back at work today, but the good news is I still love my new job, so I am counting my blessings! Enjoy New Year's in the east! Love LeeLane

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