Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Ladders on very slippery tiled floors

I know that it goes without saying that you would not climb up a tall ladder which is sitting on a shiny tile floor without bracing it against something or having someone hold it firmly.  Right?  Well, that's what we were doing.  Gopal was galantly hanging a crystal windchime in the high domed ceiling of our dining room.  I was holding the ladder, with trepidation.  The ladder is made of bamboo and is 12-feet tall!

He successfully hung my windchime, then decided to clean the windows that were up there.  He asked me to get some window cleaner.  I did.  Down he came!  We think the wounds on his left shin were from the ladder itself.  After a couple weeks, one of them had not healed and looked funny.  So, we had our doctor look at it.

To make a long story short, a surgeon looked at it and performed a small surgery on it to clean it out.  Here's the result.

Both of us feel insecure about the drastic steps taken.  This wound has had trouble healing too, so our doctor checked Gopal's blood sugars.  They were up, and I am now giving him insulin shots, as well as taking his blood sugars.

It is now two weeks since the surgery, and the wound is starting to heal slowly.  (More later.)

Monday, June 2, 2014

Upholstering furniture through an interpreter

When we first moved to India in mid-2008 and eventually settled near Coonoor, in the Nilgiri mountain district of Tamil Nadu, later that year, we bought an inexpensive set of living-room furniture for our very humble apartment.  Several years and a couple moves later, the couch became very uncomfortable to sit on.  The life had gone out of the seat.

I speak very little Tamil.  My husband grew up speaking Tamil so does most of the communicating for us.  One of his favorite sources of information is our driver, Prabhu.  Each inquiry is an opportunity for Prabhu to deepen his network here in Coonoor, as well as lining his pockets I'm sure.  When Prabhu discovered that we were contemplating re-upholstering our living room furniture, of course he had just the person to do that for us.  The next thing I knew the arrangements had been made, and I was choosing new upholstery fabric.

Before I knew it, the upholsterer, his son-in-law and their sewing machine (pedal action) had taken over our balcony.  I was so mesmerized watching them work so skillfully.  Before I knew it, one chair was already upholstered.  I wanted skirts added, to cover the legs and make it look more dignified.  Before I knew it, I could see RUFFLES rolling out of the sewing machine!  Yikes!  No, no, no!  My idea of skirts on couches and chairs was flat with pleats at the corners, etc.  I looked it up on the internet and showed them.  By that time, it was too late.

The new and the old - amazing transformation

Having lost the battle for the skirt I wanted, I was shown the finished product.

I think they only envisioned the furniture lining the walls, so who needs skirting on the back?  Me.  So, they fixed that.

I think that they magically transformed our old furniture into much more lovely seating.  I have learned to forget the ruffles.  (The skirting on the back of the chairs and couch are flat.)

To make the recycling process complete, here's where the original upholstery ended up.  That's Prabhu.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Joan's visit - 09 March to 08 April 2013

Joan and I walking near our house in the tea plantations

Our housekeeper, Papathi, arranged a home cleansing puja for our house
March 20th, we started of on a road trip, beginning with Wayanad Wildlife Preserve, which was closed.  So we decided to see an old Jain temple in Wayanad District and then head for Kerala and the coast on the Arabian Sea.  ( Joan isn't in many of these pictures because the pictures are all from her camera.)

Sulthan Bathery Jain Temple, Wayanad

This temple is one of the most important among a series of ruins spread across the state of Kerala that testify to a period of a strong Jain presence in this region.  Believed to have been built in the 13th century, it served as a HIndu shrine, an important center for commercial activity and eventually as a battery (ammunition store) for Tipu Sulthan's marching army.

Gopal at the Khozikade beach across from our hotel, our first stop on the coast

Raintree Lodge, Ft. Kochi

Kathakali dancers putting on their makeup

Kathakali dancers

Kathakali is a stylized classical Indian dance drama noted for the attractive makeup of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion.  It originated in the country's present day state of Kerala during the 17th century and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming. (Wikipedia)

We continued south along the coast of Kerala to Alappuzha (Alleppey) where we met operators of a backwater houseboat, who had seen us in Kochi, tracked down our driver and guided us to their boat.  Hmmm.  Lots of competition.  We spent two days on this houseboat.

The Kerala Backwaters are a network of inerconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets, a labyrinthine system formed by more than 900 km of waterways, and sometimes compared to the American Bayou. (Wikipedia)

It was wonderful!  I had sprained my ankle badly in December and was still having trouble getting around.  So, laying back with my feet up as we glided along the backwaters was wonderful.he

Aishwarya's engagement party and wedding - 9 December 2012 and 1 February 2013

Aishwarya is our good friend, as is her family. We travelled to Chennai in time for the engagement party on 9 December.

Aishwarya's parents, Mahalakshmi and Govindharajan, Gopal and I in the hotel room the family reserved for event staging.  In the upper right is Aishwarya having her make up and hair done.

Deepak, the groom-to-be, and Aishwarya

The pastor

The immediate Govindharajan family

The Wedding - 01 February 2013


Thursday, November 15, 2012

20 Oct.-3 Nov. 2012 - Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai

On 20 October, we left our home to go visit friends in Chennai, Delhi and Mumbai.  The weather was very cold, and the clouds were sitting right on Coonoor, so we couldn't see anything halfway down the mountain.  Very dangerous driving under perfect conditions.  This time, we couldn't see more than a car length ahead.  Ugh.  Halfway down, the dense fog cleared.  We caught a train at 7:45pm from Mettapalayam, express to Chennai, where we arrived at 5:00am 21 October.

We checked into our hotel and eventually met our young friend Aishwarya, Govindharjan's daughter, in the afternoon.  She took us shopping at a big, modern shopping mall.  Her parents and sister, Apurva, met us there for dinner later.  It was a nice day and a nice visit.  I bought two nice sarees, which I am already wearing.  But, I miss Aishu and Apurva.  Haven't seen them since, although we text message now and then.

At 5:00am the following morning, 22 October, we took an autorickshaw to the train station, where we caught another express train, this time to Delhi.  My only complaint about this leg of the journey was, because of the speed of the train, you are continually shaken by intense vibration, even while sleeping.  My favorite part was being able to see India out the window for a whole day and early the next morning. 


We arrived in Delhi at 11:15am 23 October, where our friend Raju met us, carried luggage, and found us a taxi to his apartment.  It was wonderful seeing him.  I hadn't seen him for maybe a year or so.  We were there to celebrate his completion of his software engineering degree program.  Very exciting.

When we arrived at Raju's apartment, we greeted his mother Krishna and his sister Suman and her son Harsh.  What a nice surprise that Suman and Harsh were visiting, and it was wonderful to see Krishna again.

Early in our visit we went to Nehru Place, an electronics market.
Harsh and Raju.

Another day, we invited our Joint Assistance Centre India colleague, Naersh Srivasthava, to join us for lunch.  He brought a board member, Mr. Harish Sakhuja.
Harish Sakhuja, Gopal, Naresh

Seven new puppies near the entry of Raju's apartment.  (When I took this picture, the street-dog mother came after me fiercely - scared me to death.  Good mama.)

Our friend Tehmina invited us for lunch at the Gymkhana Club.
Tehmina, Gopal, Krishna, Anand, Tehmina's father

Harsh, Raju, Suman, Krishna, Tehmina

At a shopping mall, there was a Skoda car display that included a computer game that Harsh could not resist.

Harsh and Gopal on my Samsung laptop.  (I didn't get near my new laptop til I got home.)

The train ride from Delhi to Mumbai was another express.  I had contracted asthma in Delhi so was coughing and not sleeping well.  The food on the train also didn't agree with me.  It was a miserable ride for me.

Although this was my second visit to Mumbai, this was my first Mumbai tour.  This is the India Gate that welcomes people coming in by sea. 

These beautiful, silver horse carriages are all over the place by India Gate.  I heard on the news that there is a big controversy about them because of concern over animal cruelty.

Here I am with my gracious hostess, Vijaya, who took such tender care of us.  She's a great cook, like Krishna was in Delhi.  This was the first time I had seen the seashore at Mumbai.  So wonderful!

This is the Taj Hotel in Mumbai, right across the street from India Gate.  It is so posh, the cheapest room goes for
20,000 rupees ($363).  We went in to have a cup of tea, but it's not that kind of place.  But they did have gorgeous shops full of gorgeous stuff.  Sigh.

Here's Vijaya having a cuppa early in the morning.


We had good visits with everyone, and the hospitality and cooking could not have been better.  It was a good trip.  Next time I think we will not travel so much by train.  (We flew home from Mumbai.)


26 July-18 October 2012 - Ooty and Coonoor

Saint Stephens Church, Ooty

Saint Stephens church was built in Ooty by the British in the early 1800s.

 Foreigners Registration Office

When I travel out of India, I have to go to the FRO (Foreigners Registration Office) in Ooty (the closest FRO to Coonoor), submit a form requesting permission to leave, and return to pick up the approved permission form a week later.

Tea estate accident

The driver of this jeep is an employee of the tea estate near us.  Apparently, there was a group of wild bison (Indian Gauer) on the road and he was trying to drive around them.  The manager of another local tea estate had recently been gored to death by a bison so I think this driver was very nervous and tried to give them so much space, he rolled down the hill.  He was not injured and told me the story.
Kolu Festival

from Wikipedia:  During the festival of Navratri in Southern India, it is customary in the states of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, as well as in some Tamil communities within Sri Lanka, to display a "Kolu". This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers ("padis").
Kolu or Golu in Tamil(கொலு) means Divine Presence. Kolu represents the divine presence of the Goddesses Sarawathi, Parvathi and Laxmi in their houses during Navaratri (Nine nights).
When people come to a person's house to see the Kolu, usually they are given prasad (the offering given to God that day), kumkum and a small bag of gifts. These are only given to girls and married women. In the evenings, a "kuthuvilakku" (small lamp) is lit, in the middle of a decorated "kolam"(Rangoli), before the Kolu and devotional hymns and shlokas are chanted. After performing the puja, the food items that have been prepared are offered to the goddesses.

Bhajan during Navratri Golu in Coimbatore, India

Like any festival, Kolu also has a significant connection with agricultural economy of ancient India. It is said that in order to encourage dredging and de-silting of irrigation canals and riverbeds the Kolu celebration was aimed at providing demand for the clay material got from such activities. There are many peculiar customs and beliefs in different parts of India that imbue sacred status to clay. Dissolving Ganesha dolls made of wet clay into the water system is one such belief. Another example is the Bengali tradition of using clay that has been tread upon by the most beautiful girl in the area to construct a doll of the Goddess Kali, the belief being that this would be the best way to approximate the perfect features of the Goddess.

My friend Kalyani wanted me to experience Kolu, so she took me to these two different households.  It was really wonderful.  I knew the hostess at the first home and was delighted to get to know the family at the second.  Everyone is so warm and hospitable.  This was the evening of 18 October.