Friday, February 20, 2009

Live from Pondy

Greetings from frenetic Pondy! All this, and it's only a mere fraction of the size of most Indian cities. And, it's one of the more laid-back cities as well. I think there are no less than two kinds of music going on in the cafe here, and of course there's the usual cacophony of sounds careening around outside unabated. At least until around midnight.

I saw two cows this now I think I've seen all four of the resident bovines. This city, at least the one I've seen so far, is oddly bereft of the usual sacreds. In other cities, there are many, and usually the ones with the long horns, which are often colored in bright pigment. I haven't heard any cow bells. Just auto bells.

Speaking of autos - the ones I'm refering to are the three-wheeled varieties who portage people around at breakneck speed. Some of them are really decked out in garlands (which is pretty common here, even on big Mac trucks), and many have rows of stickers (dieties mostly). Well I finally saw one today with two english words stickered across the back window: NO FEAR. Perfect!! If you've ever been in Indian traffic, you will know why. I think I've mentioned how whacky it is.

I was writing to a friend a bit ago, saying how hot it is here. It's actually only in the mid-80s (at ten o'clock in the morning)...but the humidity is the killer. That I've never in my life sweated from the bridge of my nose, and then trickling down off the top of my schnoz. It's incredible. I don't think I'll be able to stay here too much longer. And I don't know if I want to travel to north India, either. I'm not sure. It's hot there too....

I was also yakking to my best friend about how intolerant I am of extreme weather conditions, which I thought of as weird at first, considering how my moods can be so consistently extreme. You think I'd like the hot hot or the cold cold, right? But no. I need some moderation, dammit. Treating my moody condition homeopathically with like-minded weather is not my kind of remedy.

I'm heading out to Auroville today. I'm almost packed up and ready to go....I bought a mumu on the way to the internet cafe. This after emptying my backpack of a few items in an effort to minimize and simplify. But after being semi-scolded by a frenchwoman after a concert I happened upon the other night (spectacular tablas and ragas or durgi (??)....she said I needed to dress more modestly, especially if I am to attend any ashram functions. I hadn't planned on attending the concert, and apparently I did a major fashion faux pas: I wore the salwar (bottom half of salwar kameez) and a tank top, with a shawl wrapped around my shouders.

The shawl didn't cover enough of my neckline (though I tried to cover my boobs well enough), and the salwar without the kameez is like wearing pantaloons...petticoat...underwear!! I've seen other women do it. I guess they steer clear of ashrams though :)

Soooo....I bought the mumu for a few reasons.
1. impulse (kind of) (it was only a couple of dollars)
2. extremely modest (it's a damn house dress, ok? ha ha!)
3. ummm....yeah, modesty, especially if I'm a house guest and I need to cover up at night (my little cotton sleeper briefs would be positively scandalous)

This morning I stopped and chatted with a chai shop owner. For some reason, I steered myself over there. I always listen to those kinds of prompts. It was nice, he offered me a chair, I nibbled a few biscuits (cookies), we chatted, he spoke english

(here I should insert, maybe for the second time, that even my native english speaking skills along with my aptitude for picking up other languages has seemingly evaporated in the extreme heat of India - it's exceedingly frustrating and downright disheartening.....I have trouble understanding even native speaking english speakers, it's crazy!! nothing is at it seems any more! or maybe I'm just now recognizing that fact!)

and he asked me if I was carrying any american coin, since he collects foreign currency. I was not. He showed me, upon inquiry, how to reach the Bazaar I had just learned about, so I thanked him for the chai and declined the cigarette (even though I REALLY WANTED ONE - how weird is that?? I quit five years ago! dammit! I resisted though)....and headed into a warren of vegetable and anything-else-you-could-possibly-want covered bazaar a few blocks away.

I bought a small cotton tank top (to wear UNDER all my new Indian clothing that the tailor made for me, even the maternity-style tank tops....well I did assert that I wanted my clothing LOOSE......ali baba...!) from a shopkeeper who gave me a good price (he really did) and he speaks four languages fluently. ALI BABA!

I am such a tourist :)

Here are some pics from around Vellore:

A small shrine alongside the road to Kaniyambari, a neighboring village. Really small shrine, you couldn't really stoop inside very easily. Unless you are a very petit Indian.

The above is the main drag of Kaniyambari, the village near the Buddha Smiles School where we did our workshop in permaculture and natural building. The place where you can catch a bus is Kaniyambari. And buy food, and all sorts of things.

Sunset at the School, outside the cob building we rennovated. The building went up a few years ago; it has been chomped on by termites. The picture doesn't do the Indian sun any justice at all.

This is another little roadside shrine, quite common, and sweet.

I posted some pictures on a flickr account, you can see 'em right here.

I think that's it for now...I have some pics of Pondy, if I don't upload in a minute, I'll be back as soon as I can!


Tam Hess said...

I lived overseas, Singapore, Philippines,Indonesia...., did you know? I remember the heat, not hot but humid, dripping like you want to take a shower right after you take a shower. I also remember the smell, so hard to explain. Your travels are very interesting to me. Keep up the posts I'm loving this! Cheers, careful, I remember the traffic overseas. Especially in Jakarta and Philippines. It's crazy. Read you soon!
xo T

original trish said...

Wonderful posts, keep it up. It's like being there too but without all the....erummmmm...heat, bugs, and afflictions. I can't seem to grasp the way food is prepared, maybe you can clairify this some. It seem cheap enough to eat. An for the love of pete, can't these people see that you are not from there and give you a break on your choice of clothing considering the heat I'd be a topic of conversation at the least and maybe asked to leave at worst. Well, I do miss you and hope all this experience make your muse so happy to be home that art will flourish. LOL, mstrish