A Travellerspoint blog

moving on

sunny 30 °C

the past few days have been quite busy, trying to fit in as much as possible before i go... today :(

have visited Rams Foot (i think its called that) and another temple, and a few more schools, one where my cousins family laid a foundation stone for a water pump. Also visited a stroke patient who gets treatment every month courtesy of the Pappa Fund/Pulse trust (swedish tourists visitied rameswaram before johnny died and were really interested in the Pappa Fund and set up the Pulse Trust which does a similar thing and is also looked after by joseph).

had the last dinner with the family last night. sad times. except diana and sylvie drank less than a glass of wine and were tipsy. i had a massive glass of beer (yuck! but its the aussie culture and i am conforming haha) and a glass of wine and was fine. it was quite funny. Joseph was telling me he hoped to be in Chennai around the time i am there but there is an election happening on the exact day so Chennai may be very disrupted. cant say im too happy about being there either... :S

moving onto Ooty and then Goa, hoping to meet some other young people as they are fairly touristy areas. if not, it will be nice to find some coldness in ooty and some clothes in goa :) next post from there!

Posted by alexD 21:56 Archived in India Comments (0)

separating the men from the boys

sunny 35 °C

so really cant remember the order of what happened when, and havent been writing in ze diary. BAD. but, i'll just recap, and we can pretend it happened in that order!

The other day there was this festival celebrating a hindu god (think it was the last time i blogged), no idea which one, there are hundreds. anyway the main streets leading up to the temple had woven coconut leaves over them as a sort of roof, and leaves hanging from them that had all been painted. thoughout the day people would come down the main street and circle the temple. For weeks, they had been praying and fasting and today was the day of redemption. some tied there mouths closed, but some stuck poles through their cheeks, like 10 feet poles (their were different sizes though, for different ages/strengths) and hooks in their backs and then pulled a cart with 1-3 children in it around the temple. there were young boys dancing in front of them and a drummer person (sort of, hard to explain) providing music. it was insane. like really. and then later on i saw a man who had a massive pole though his mouth and then hooks through his legs and he was lying horizontal in the air, hanging from this contraption thing. a couple of people also were stuck to a board with these nail things in their arms, torso and legs... saw it all being pulled out as well, ergghhhh it was a bit gross!

anyway, also went to Ramnad because on the 28th im going to Ooty (a hill station), on the 2nd im flying to Goa (party central of india) and then on the 11th i am taking a train back to chennai for my flight to Kenya on the 14th! and all this had to be booked :| haha, but SO EXCITED!!!

also on this day went to their 'supermarkets' to try and find ingrediants to cook for the main family ive been staying with. cooked stirfry and fondue. well, tried. the stirfry turned out horribly gluggy and tasted odd (oops) and the chocolate wouldnt melt properly (i think its because it has an additive which stops it from melting in the hot indian weather). so no one ate much of the stirfry, but there was so much chocolate and fruit i think (hope!) people filled up on that. one guy looked like he was having the time of his life with the chocolate!!

other than that, not much to be said other than ive been exploring a bit on the motorcycle but am ready to leave rameswaram now :)

and it is definitely getting hotter :|

Posted by alexD 22:16 Archived in India Comments (0)

madurai

sunny 35 °C

SO 2 days ago joseph, regan and another guy and i went to madurai. woke up at the lovely time of 5 oclock and was on the road by 6. didnt know it was going to be a 4 hour journey... veryy long. saw more of stereotypical india, rubbish, people, smells (sewerage, rotting food etc) and then arrived! we went straight to a market to find me some more clothes, got 2 pants and a top hand made for me (BUT 1 top is see through and the other is SO itchy, its horrible, but the pants are really amazzing...). Then spent a bit of time getting Joseph some batteries as every day there are power cuts ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours (instead of providing their people with electricity, india sells it to other countries resulting in power cuts in most areas). Had lunch on a roof top overlooking the famous temple in Madurai (its incredible, there are four 'gates' north,south,e,w and each one has hundreds of hindu sculptures on it. amazing.) for lunch we had norht indina dishes i think. a change but still not pasta! Visited the hospital where the pappa fund sends its serious patients and met a lady who's getting radiotherepy, courtesy of the government/pappa fund. spent the day looking around and had dinner in this dining hall like room. it was okay, but the best part was definatley ICECREAM. i died. and had 2 :) left madurai at about 10 o clock, car fully loaded with 6 massive batteries and 2 boxes of paper that took up nearly all the room in the back, ie the people in the back were sitting on one another haha. on the way got stopped by police (in Tamil Nadu there will be an election on the 13th of April, and the government has instructed the police force to search vehicles and people at various checkpoints. if the people are found to have a lot of money, jewellery sari etc, anything in excess and dont have a reason to have it, it is confiscated andf given to the government as they think it may be used to aid the opposition party...) and had my passport and visa checked. thank god i was carrying them on me!! (thats another tip rtight there, carry photocopies on you at all times!) apparently the gurads at one of the points were drunk, because they thought a very indian, indian was also from australia, and one was from north india. anyway, joseph and his friends laughed A LOT about this on the way back... got back at 2 30am, fell into bed and slept till 8 30.

so yesterday. woke up 8 30. thought why cant i sleep in??? went back to sleep for a couple of hours. had a bit of a moan to mum and dad about the clothes and was generally feeing a bit crap. it was also the anniversary of jospehs mothers death yesterday so we vistied the cemetary where she and johnny are buried. ive never been to a cemetary to visit someone before so it was hard. but they covered the graves in flowers and stuck inscense and candles in the ground and it was nice...

today we visited a school and josephs cocnut plantation. the kids were 5-10. spoke to the 10 year old for a bit, about India, australia, their hobbies, and what they want to be when they grow up. it was interesting listening to this. a lot of the girls want to be teachers which may happen, but a lot of the kids wanted to be doctors or engineers. spoke to joseph about the liklihood of this actually happening and he said small because the standard of education in the area is not too good and cant compete with madurai of chennai or trichy, thus they cant get scholarships and as it is a very poor community, cant afford the fees. for teaching it is about $6000 aus dollars for 2 years (including everything including board and food i think), but to be a doctor is can cost in excess of 50 000 dollars which most people just cant afford. another thing joseph was telling me was that generally a doctor will try and find another doctor to marry, they will l,ivwe a very comfortable life with a good salary and benifits form the government. they will basically force their kids ot become doctrs and they cycle continnues, so its hard for someone else to get the scholarship to study medicine when so many doctors kids are going for it as well.

at the moment, the Pappa fund has a John Lane scholarship whcih is given to 1 or 2 student s a year to fund college studies. one it\s training to teach physics, one is a nurse, they are all doing quite well apparently. the schools give lists fo applicants to jospeh who then decides. it goes on acedemic ability but also the fmanilies finacial situation. also, they do not support kids in private schools. they also support about 50 other students in various ways by paying for half of their tuition or 'mess' (food) fees.

anyway, the kids were so gorgeous! i had to sing nursery rhymes to one group. i was SO embarrassed but it was okay... at the end we took photos infront of the plaque thanking people including johnny and they all wanted to shake my hand. a few came up to me and said (in tamil so i had to ask jospeh haha) 'dont forget me'. it was gorgeous! id love to go back and sit in on an english lesson or something...

after this we dorve to the coconut plantation of josephs and had fresh (literlly just from the tree) 'sweet' coconut. it is beofre the cocnut is dried. drank the jucie and it was really good, ate the flesh and it was AMAZING.

anyway, now i am writing to you, sitting in my custom made happy pants, planning on finding somehting to eat (pretty sure all the messes have closed... no problem, found my weakness in chips and chocolate which are too available!)

Posted by alexD 01:53 Archived in India Comments (0)

there is definitely more jiggle in my wiggle

sunny 30 °C

Sorry for lack of posting, no internet! so the past few days...

went to a family came to Joseph's house for their sons 1st birthday, he was GORGEOUS. also, on this day started playing cricket. my tennis is coming in useful because the ball doesnt bounce so is thrown and hit on the full. Diana decided i should wear a sari as well. it was a beautiful red colour, but just a tad small, anyway, have some photos. Even if it fit properly though i think it would be constricting... Visited the temple. its nice but SO touristy with tacky toys and cards with pictures of Rama (? going on slumdog millionare here...) and other hindu people on them

Have seen a little boy get his head shaved s an offering to the gods, this was done in Dhanaskody which is basically the southern most point of India. Very nice beach area. Joseph was telling me a lot of the kids in Dhanaskody dont go to school because they can steal shells then sell them to tourists to make money...

Visited an old peoples home that the Pappa Fund supported and that Johnny loved. It was very funny, al lthe old poeple there only spoke tamil and one lady didnt realise i didnt understand it... so she just kept talking to me. She was hilarious. Anyway, spent some time talking to the nun who helps run it, and a lady there because its conveniently close to the dispensary and it was really good!

Yesterday went to the beach with 20+ poeple. no joke, there were 8 big adults, 3 kids, 2 babies and enough food to feed everyone and clothes and blankets etc in a tiny van. the true Indian experience! sat in the forested are just back from the beach, had lunch, and played some cricket. then we swam! i rediscovered my love/hate relationship with the beach... it was so nice to be in the water but i CANNOT stand sand, at all. also, we swam in our clothes which was interesting... all those 'come to the swimming lesson in your clothes' lessons payed off! haha, but all the women were so frightened of swimming, they all clung to their husbands and the children wouldnt go near the water. I was there swimming away and everyone was looking t me in suprise! we went to a pooll afterwards and Diana asked me to teach her to swim. Not meaning to be harsh or rude but she and her friends looked like beached whale would look if they ahd arms... its hard because they are fully clothed and havent got used to the idea of putting their heads under the water...

now for the random bits:

Made friends with Jurit who is a little girl who actually just always laughs, she is the most cute thing ever! she was speaking to me in tamil and i just responded with different pitched 'mmm''s and she kept going... her dad looked at me quizzically, like do i understand, i shook my head adn everyone just laughed.

The temple near my hotel sings at 4 every morning for about an hour. getting used to sleeping through it!

the serving sizes are HUGE. seriously seriously big. Like they give you a full plates worth and then you are meant to have some more... i cant do it! its actually ridiculous, also, with all the rice and oil, i am feeling it, thats for sure!

whoever said wear closed shoes in India to avoid mosquito's has obviously never been to India, you take your shoes off before you enter nearly everywhere! i tried for the first day but am now wearing thongs :)

Had to do some laundry last night, am down to wearing my bikini as underwear and bra haha, not good at all...

Plans in India never stay the same. Have been planning on going to madurai nearly everyday this week and it never happens! was meant to visit a school today but something came up etc etc haha

have had a few walks around Rameswaram, really its incredibly hot with little shade so its difficult to do much and im constantly tired from the heat (thus every day, everyone in India 'rests'. its so good. i love napping :) ), but know my way basically around the town now!

I was in a more rural area the other day and was wondering why the housing situation with it all being coconut leaves, didnt shock me as much as i thought it would and have come to the conclusion, it reminds me of medieval times and there are shows on this on the tv so i have been sort of desensitised....

Posted by alexD 00:39 Archived in India Comments (0)

forgot some things

sunny 40 °C

-the buses and cars have tunes that play when they are reversing. i was walking down a street and heard the jingle bells tune, all i could do was laugh!
-hand sanitiser is a life saver, eating with your hands and all
-the roads are quite bad, not at all maintained
-the ring tones on mobiles (which A LOT of people have) are standard tones but with music added in. imagine a fancy version of the nokia ringtone haha

i tried to rig up a mosquito net that hangs from the ceiling. needless to say, there was no where to hang it from so i had to move the bed and use dental floss to try and rig it up. after an hour it was done! and then i pulled too hard and it fell down... douche haha

also, charging my phone i have a plug adapter, a usb adapter and then connect my phone, but the socket was really loose. out comes dental floss again (i swear ill never actually floss with it...) to hold up the plug. looks very amateur but it works! the, 'in a hotel' Bear Grylls is coming out in me... (except ill never drink my urine...)

Posted by alexD 06:55 Archived in India Comments (0)

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