Saturday, July 25, 2009

25 July 09 (Jenny's wedding day)

My niece Jenny is getting married today in Santa Barbara, California. My thoughts are with her and Greg and the whole family. Wish I was there.

In the meantime, my friend Kim wrote that her son Brian and his friend Matt are walking from Oakland, California, to Portland Oregon, to support "causes dear to their hearts" - "Brian to help fund his father's elementary school outdoor education program that was cut from the budget and Matt to support his friend Stephanie who has breast cancer." We got the e-mail while in Chennai and haven't been feeling terribly strong since. But, today, finally, we got out for our walk in support of these young men. We didn't go far, lucky to be walking.

Gopal, Carolyn, Mariama
Temple on our walking route

Chennai 15-19 July 09

On Wednesday afternoon, 15 July, a taxi came to the house to take us down the mountain to the train station at Mettapalayam and the train to Chennai. Gopal has been issued an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card, so we had to pick it up in Chennai. Stomach flu had been going around the colony, and I got hit with it en route to the train. We didn't feel well while in Chennai.

We are usually not able to get good sleeper seats, nor seats together, on the train so we decided to try First Class.

Here's Gopal in our First Class room. The three bad thing about these accomodations are that you are alone, very isolated from other passengers, it's considerably more expensive ($20 pp each way), and one of us has to sleep in an upper bunk. Everything else is good about it. Clean bathrooms with western toilets and toilet paper, always unoccupied in my experience; we were able to be very private; the windows were clean and clear so we could see outside; the sheets were pretty, etc. We loved it. It was so relaxing, knowing I was returning in a FC cabin.

While in Chennai, we went to Mahalakshmi's home for lunch. She is Govindharajan's wife and Aishwarya's mother. I had never met her. She was so gracious, spoke flawless English, and served us the perfect lunch very thoughtfully made for us. Here she is in a beautiful saree Govindharajan bought her when she visited Ooty.

When we got home, Shriya came by a lot. Here she is in the new salwar kameez she and her classmates wear for dance class.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Temple celebration 12 July 09

At the temple on the hill above our colony, there has been a celebration going on for several days. On Sunday, there was a special celebration where people come worship and eat together. I went with my neighbors Jayanthi, Shemi and Shriya, and Mariama..

Walking to the temple

Jayanthi circumambulating this series of dieties

Outside behind the temple

The back of the temple from the hillside behind

A firepit being prepared for someone to walk over the coals

The crown forming. At this point I was settled facing them with a perfect shot of the firewalking.

The coals are prepared, and holes at either end are filled with water.

Ritual around the fire pit (from my perfect photo perspective).

Further ritual
The crowd is thickening; this is a window in the apartment next door.

This video is of the first procession that came through before the fire walking. You'll see how my perfect photo spot got seriously impaired. And forgive the amateurness of my video.

This is a video of the second procession before the firewalking. When the video ends, I am starting to be crushed in a growing surge that finally made me give up my dream of filming a man walking on hot coals. After waiting for over a half hour, I never did see it.

When the fire walker procession left the fire pit, we all sat on the ground to eat. Banana leaves are spread before us to eat on.

Once I lost my fire walking photo op, I failed to turn off the video function of my camera. So everytime I tried to take a picture, I ended up with a video. Please forgive me. I left this one in because it shows you the guys running around serving food.

A view of the hills on the wayhome.

Shriya, Bharat (Jayanthi's son who met us on our way down), Jayanthi, Mariama, Shemi

We stopped at our neighbor Shashi's new store.


Friday, July 10, 2009

The Story of Stuff

In case you haven't seen this 20-minute video, please take this link to it. It is very special. My sister, Joan, sent it to me. THANK YOU, JOAN!!! For my friends in India, the video is about America but is also for you. You'll see.
With love,