Friday, February 20, 2009

Shaggy Dog

We've been adopted!
Much to the horror of some of my neighbors, this shaggy dog has adopted us. She has decided this is where she wants to live, and we aren't about to drive her away. It really has been a test to the relationhips I have been fortunate enough to form here. Although a few households have pets, generally, dogs run wild and are vilified here. People really hate them and treat them very badly. But after some stressful days, our landlord started feeding Shaggy Dog and seems very happy to have her around. sigh
When we left for Devala, someone had put a large rope around Shaggy's neck overnight. I wasn't sure what people were planning to do to her while we were away.
I was so relieved to see her right there in front of our house when we returned.
Shriya and Atul told me a woman across the creek had tried to tie her up over there (I have a feeling she wanted to keep Shaggy there 'cause she's so cute), but Shaggy kept breaking away and coming back to our house.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Devala, 17 February 2009 - Day 2

This is how we started our days. On the second day, however, Gopal's back was bothering him so much he waited while I walked down to the gate and back.

Maheshwari, the cook
Blowing on the fire

The stove, with firewood stacked below. I see these stoves everywhere, including outside our house, but never saw one in use.
Maheswari grinding tomato and onion on a grinding stone, for chutney

Ramamurti, the night watchman


Carolyn, Govindharajan, Chelladurai
Govindharajan took us to the Inspection Bungalow for lunch. It is a very nice guest house for visiting inspectors and other guests. Chelladurai oversaw our lunch. It was one of the best meals we have eaten since arriving in India. So many dishes, all wonderful. Even the vegetables weren't overcooked. Heaven.

Before lunch, Sankaran, the driver, climbed a tree in the spectacular garden at the Inspection Bungalow and brought down a bumblimas (and koya and persimmon). The bumblimas looks like a large grapefruit and has a similar taste. After assistance removing the very thick, tough skins, we enjoyed eating it.There were so many beautiful flowers there. It saddened me I was not more literate in gardening. Govindharajan, Carolyn, Chelladurai, Gopal

En route to the Tantea Cherambadi Tea Factory, we passed this one - Carolyn Factory!


The stems and sticks being removed from tea leaves

Then the leaves get spread out to wilt, not dry out completely

The leaves then get chopped into tiny pieces
After filtering and oxidation, the leaf pieces are guided into large tumblers. It was here I became aware of a mist being blown onto us to keep the environment moist. You'll see in some of the pictures that my camera lense got wet.

A filtering process divides the leaves into at least six different grades.


Wood-burning ovens that roast the tea

Meeting with Sivakumar, the Divisional Manager of the factory, our guide

Trying to explain this blog to Sankar. He didn't understand a word.

A wonderful bush outside the factory

Devala, 16 February 2009 - Day 1

A few doors down from us live our friends Gopal and Mariama. With them lives their niece Aishwarya who goes to college in Ooty. On weekends, her father, Gopal's brother, often comes to stay. His name is Govindharajan, and he has invited us several times to come stay in his home in Nevala. We were finally able to accept his invitation, so the three of us left very early Monday morning, 16 February, for the drive to Devala. Sorry to report that I was so carsick that I missed the entire ride. I did see a little of Mudumalai Wildlife Sanctuary, which I had been so anxious to visit. We will visit it again one day.
We had a wonderful couple of days with Govindharajan. Devala is a beautiful place, and he was the ultimate host. So considerate, so generous, so gracious. Here are our pictures from our first day. Enjoy.
Domesticated elephant
This is another domesticated elephant. (Never saw one in the wild.)
Bamboo grove

Tamil Nadu Tea Plantation Corp. Ltd. (Tantea)
Entrance Gate to bungalow (Govindharajan's home)


Muthumariaman temple just inside the gate

Carolyn walking the driveway to the house

The bungalow

Our bedroom

The dining room (Gopal and Govindharajan)

Monday evening, Govindharajan took us up into the hills in his Maruti jeep following one of the elephant trails

The trail runs through the tea plantation, needless to say

On the trail - Govindharajan, Gopal, Sankaran (Govindharajan's driver)
Govindharajan is on his cellphone - his phone rings all the time.

Maruti jeep

Black pepper vine on a tree

Stop to dislodge a stick from the underside of the jeep

A tea weighing station wrecked by an elephant


Gopal and Carolyn in the tea trees

After the tea leaves are picked, they are brought to a weighing station, then on to the factory.

A stop at Govindharajan's office
(Vinoba, Govindharajan, Carolyn)