Monday, November 23, 2009

Storm Cleanup, two weeks later

Here are a couple more pictures of the hotel we've been staying in for the last couple weeks. We signed a lease on our new apartment yesterday and will learn shortly when we can move in.

Entrance portico

Lobby side of entrance

Dining side of entrance
The pictures below are as we walked up the hill from downtown Coonoor to Bedford where we've been staying and where our old and new apartments are.

Now that two weeks have passed, A LOT of cleaning up has been done. This picture shows one of the landslides that closed the Coimbatore to Coonoor road, as well as the train track. In this photo, the train track is just below the road. There are no projections on when the road from Coimbatore to Coonoor will be usable. Some say 1.5 years. Same for the badly damaged road from Coonoor to Ooty. Now the traffic is going through the town of Kotagiri to get to Ooty, and also to get to Mettapalayam to get to Coimbatore. Here's a link from "The Hindu Times" regarding the roads

Hard to see the landslide behind this building, but you can see the dirt and debris pushing throug the metal door.

Looking down from the road

Down again from the road

Gopal looking down

Gopal is looking down. I was tryiing to show the devastation to the property below.

The day after the storm, Gopal and I walked down this road. When we set out, we had no idea how bad it would be. And, so, I didn't bring my camera. There were places where it was heroic to climb through. There were a couple days just after the storm when it didn't rain. But for the last week or so it has rained heavily every evening and night. My discomfort at being at the Brooklands house is acute, but I'm writing this post from that house since we are here to pack up our things.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sagayamatha Hospital, Coonoor

On Wednesday we came to Sagayamatha Hospital so Gopal could have some tests run. Dr. Prince has moved his office from Nankem to Sagayamatha, a Catholic hospital. At 8am sharp, the receptionist got a P.A. system microphone and 5 other staff gathered to make an announcement then sing a morniing prayer.

The Saga Continues

While negotiations continue with our landlord, the rains continue (on and off, not continually day and night as during the storm), making me incredibly uncomfortable in our home. We visit often as Gopal wants to use the internet there. I am now packing us up to move.
Suzie, this is our room at the YWCA Wyoming in Coonoor.

We have agreed to rent the top floor of this house in Bedford, a neighborhood of Coonoor. We will probably sign the lease tomorrow and move in around the end of November.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Storm damage in The Nilgiris

According to news reports, we got 600mm of rain in 4 days causing flooding, landslides, trees down. Practically every road has been closed, but are now opening. The train is still not coming to Mettupalayam nearby, and the toy train that runs in the Nilgiris can't run either - my guess is the track hasn't been repaired. In the Nilgiris, the death count so far is at 80. Gopal and I are living in a hotel because I do not believe we are safe in our new home. The house is sitting on a dirt hillside and sits at the edge of an unsupported dirt cliff. The raw dirt cliff is 2 ft from our bedroom, and the shrubbery there has already fallen onto the house below.
Living in a hotel sucks, and we miss our home. We have looked at other rentals and have had lengthy discussions with our landlord. We found two places we really like, but there are shortcomings to both, and we don't want to leave our new neighborhood. The bad rains stopped 3 days ago, I think, but last night it rained hard over night. The landlord is madly trying to start construction of a retaining wall to hold the dirt cliff, and the guy who owns the house below is contributing to the cost, as you can imagine. Makes me angry. I'm also irritated that Gopal and I didn't pay attention to that raw cliff when we looked at the place initially. Hindsight. We have paid 6 months rent in advance (11 months in advance is normal).
Suzie, here are pictures of the YWCA hotel, to make you feel better.

This is outside our door and where we drink tea in the morning, weather permitting.

View from that deck. It's really goreous here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Birds in Our New Neighborhood (updated again!)

Gopal spotted this Common Hoopoe in the vacant lot next door. Isn't it exotic? At first we thought it was a woodpecker, but no. It's smaller than the larger woodpeckers seen in the U.S.
This beautiful person is new to us. It showed up in our shrubs today 10 November, a windy, blustery day at the tail end of a 4-day long storm. It is a green-billed coucal from Shri Lanka. It appeared to us to be very young and unable to fly. Gopal took the picture out our bedroom window.

Needless to say, most of the birds here are the same. But there are a couple Himalayan birds I never saw over at Lingama Colony. We're at a little higher elevation here, but we're in the mountains.

Asian Koel
Common Myna

Common Raven

Eurasian Blackbird

Dollarbird (Himalayan)

Grey-backed Shrike (Himalayan)

Common Crow

Common Sparrow

Jungle Babbler

Lesser Whitethroat (Himalayan)

Oriental Magpie Robin

Red-Whickered Bulbul

Rock Pigeon

Spotted Dove

Slow Money

Just a note to recommend a book titled "Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money, Investing As If Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered" by Woody Tasch. Here's a link to a blog that talks about it more eloquently than I could:

Here's a link to The Principles of slow money:

with love

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kanyakumari - 28-30 October 09

Krishna had wanted to go to Kanyakumari, and when we got back home from the Saravanamalai temple and Dolphin's Nose, we decided to see if we could get train seats to Kanyakumari for a couple days. The only seats available were that night, so off we went!

The train went through Kerala, the state just to the west of Tamil Nadu. Here's beautiful, tropical Kerala from the train.

Kanyakumari is "located at the southernmost tip of the Indian Peninsula, it is also know by its former name Cape Comorin. Kanyakumari takes its name from the Kumari Amman or Kanyakumari Temple, situated in the town, on the sea-shore, the very confluence of the three water-bodies - Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea." from Wikipedia

This is the memorial to Vivekananda from our hotel room balcony.

Swami Vivekananda (Bengali: স্বামী বিবেকানন্দ, Shami Bibekānondo; Hindi: स्वामी विवेकानन्द, Svāmi Vivekānanda) (January 12, 1863July 4, 1902), born Narendranath Dutta[2] is the chief disciple of the 19th century mystic Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and the founder of Ramakrishna Mission.[3] He is considered a key figure in the introduction of Vedanta and Yoga in Europe and America[3] and is also credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the status of a world religion during the end of the 19th century.[4] Vivekananda is considered to be a major force in the revival of Hinduism in modern India.[5] He is best known for his inspiring speech beginning with "sisters and brothers of America",[6][7] through which he introduced Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions at Chicago in 1893.[2] fromWikipedia

Also from our balcony we could see the memorial for Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar.

Thiruvalluvar (Tamil: திருவள்ளுவர்) was a celebrated Tamil poet who wrote the Thirukkural, a work on ethics in Tamil literature. The time period of Thiruvalluvar's existence has been based on mostly linguistic evidences rather than archeological evidences since none such has been determined. His period has been estimated to be between 200 BC and 10 BC. from Wikipedia (In early blog posts we mentioned Thirvalluvar since another memorial to him was across the street from our guest house in Chennai.)

Soon after arriving in Kanyakumari, we took a ferry to the island where the Vivekananda memorial stands.

Vivekananda memorial

Vivekananda meditation center

From the temple on shore (Krishna and Carolyn)

The next morning, everyone waited for the sun to rise. It was a rainy, windy day, so no ferries to the island memorials. We were glad we went when we arrived.

Kanyakumari temple

From Kanyakamari temple

A wet Krishna in/by the sea(s)

Since leaving California, this is the first real surf I've seen. I loved it.

Gandhi memorial

A stop for tea

Bus en route to another temple in Suchindram

Thanumalayan temple in Suchindrum

The temple is an architectural marvel known for its quality of workmanship in stone. The musical pillars carved out of single stone and which stands at 18 feet is an architectural delight. There are 7 musical pillars in the Alangara Mandapam each cut out of single rock, which emit the sounds of various musical instruments when struck. There are 1035 pillars with carvings in the dancing hall.
The Anjaneya or Hanuman statue stands at 22 feet or 3 m and is carved of a single granite block and is one of the tallest statues in India.It is of great historical interest that this statue was buried in the temple, fearing an attack by Tippu Sultan and was, subsequently, forgotten.
The statue was re-installed in all it glory when Sri M.K. Neelakanta Iyer, the then Secretary of the Devaswom Board,an extremely pious and honourable aristocrat under the Maharaja of Travancore tripped and fell while circumambulating the temple. The Namboothiris were summoned and after a detailed study of Prasnam, it was found that the Hanuman statue was buried there.

Construction of the temple extended over a period of at least six hundred olden days the temple is controlled by namboodiris, one of the main namboodiri family is called thekkumon madam . Parts date back as far as the ninth or tenth century, others from the fifteenth century, and a huge seven-storey pyramidal gopura was erected during the sixteenth century.

Interesting looking building across the street from the temple

Interesting old door in one of the walls of the temple

same door (temple walls are often painted red and white stripes like this)

Kali on a nearby town wall

On the bus back to hotel

Gopal on the breakwall in Kanyakumari our last evening

St. Xavier Cathedral in Kanyakumari

Krishna posing on the breakwall after sunset

Kanyakumari at night


Fishing boats going out in the morning

Krisna in the morning