I have the guest house all to myself, all is still and calm except for the chipmonks who have discovered I like to keep the door open for the breeze and who have been getting increasingly bold at exploring the great indoors – doesn’t hurt I’ve been tempting them with peanuts of course. I imagine Muthupandi will look at me with some disappointment when he returns to make dinner but I’m enjoying them so …
It may be still but the birds are an ever present counterpoint; the doves are either breeding or dying – not sure which – and maybe they aren’t as well. I wouldn’t have thought they were the ones sounding like they were slowly, gruesomely being strangled but yes high up in the tamarind there is a lot of flapping, jostling and wheezing going on. There is a whole flock of tiny, flitting things with high liquid trills – not a chance of a photo – they move too fast for me. The crow chortles are always entertaining and I love the way they bounce, sort of skip along the ground. Yesterday there were a couple of treepies on a short stop over – never seen them here before but I’m certainly no ornithologist so perhaps this is part of their range.
The goats are everywhere this year – all the thornbush and acacia are just perfect for them to live on – nothing else can I don’t think. There is a small camp tucked away at the back of the property where the shepherds and their families live – very primitive and very smelly – billie goats give off an eye wateringly pungent odour – think skunks – that permeates everything they come near. I had a little chat with a very handsome fellow with bright blue horns left over from Pongal and I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed afterwards. It might be my imagination but I think my camera eye piece smells!
All my work is complete, all the reports written and sent off, all the photographs edited and sent off or printed out and given to the kids and finally my last report on some of the issues and problems I see arising for the charity. Before I left Toronto I bought a small travel printer – a Canon Selphy – such a clever little device. The kids are beside themselves when I can give them their photos – which they LOVE having taken. Then – “well can you take one of me and my friend, me and my two friends, me and all of us?” It’s an absolute blast to do! And the kids are dream subjects – they look right into the camera with no self-consciousness whatsoever and if you can get them to smile – it lights up the whole world.
I’ve been fortunate to spend some time with the kids Garrett and I sponsor. Kaleeswaran (Garrett’s) is in the first year of a two year engine mechanics program. With Garrett’s input I went to a “hardware store” and bought a lockable tool box and a basic set of mechanics tools – it gives Kaleeswaran a start as on landing a job he will be expected to supply his own tools. Like a great many things here in India, shopping for tools isn’t quite like anything else I have ever done. There is a narrow, crowded little street in Dindugul where all things “hardware” related are located. One tiny spot sells coir rope (made from coconut husks), another nylon, one place sells metal boxes, another sheet or rolls of metal. Some places only carry cement and sand samples, some have any and all kinds of PVC pipes spilling out everywhere. But they are all no more than 100/120 square feet – and there are dozens of them – along with the usual jostling crowd of chai wallas, delivery boys, customers, Tuk Tuks, motos, and the ubiquitous hang-around just for the “entertainment value” men.
Then there is the counter, practically on the street where I pushed my way past a small horde of men (same entertainment guys) to lean over a cracked glass top, peering through a faded out series of plastic covered sheets to identify the tools I want. First they start out with “toy” tools, junk that wouldn’t last 10 days, then the bait and switch – out comes the really high end stuff – sets of 40 spanners from 2 inches to 2 feet – and you have to buy them all! After a bit of pissyness and posturing on both sides – understanding was achieved, tea dispensed and we got down to serious work. Had I gone to Canadian Tire at home, I’d have been in and out with everything I needed – and then some – within oh, say 45 minutes. Three hours later in Dindigul my mission was achieved – with considerably more entertainment value – for all parties. I got most of the tools I wanted, the clerk got to brow beat the foreigner a bit (at least she thought so anyway), we all got to make a great deal of noise, everybody got to put their two cents worth in – including at least half the street (again read entertainment guys), they got to tell the story of the crazy Canadian lady buying tools, I got to tell you about the crazy Indian process,Gopi got to earn his sainthood for translating it all and satisfaction was had all around. And that is how you do business in the south of India!