Flocks of fledglings

Everywhere you look at the moment you can see birds which have recently fledged and which are beginning to make their way in the world.  With 7.5 acres of trees and shrubs Lakeside is a haven for nesting birds.  We currently have young babblers, bulbuls, parakeets, francolins, red-wattled lapwings and many others in the gardens.  We also have nests of nightjars, coppersmith barbets, Indian robins – and no doubt many more that I’m unaware of!

 I couple of weeks ago I was ‘divebombed’ by red-wattled lapwings as I walked in the garden.  It was obvious that they were trying to lead me away from their nest.

 

They lay their eggs on the ground, and they are so stone like that you can walk within inches of them and not see them.  It is such good camouflage that some must get trodden on at times!

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the babies hatch they already have a fine set of feathers (more like young chickens than young robins which are born naked).  As the nest is in the open the chicks are up and running almost immediately and you would have to be very lucky to see them leaving the nest.

 

 

They will hide in the bushes until mum and dad come to feed them.  If you walk to close to the hidden chicks you get dive bombed yet again!

 

Does India practice religious tolerance?

Our Lady of RansomChurch, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 A friend in England sent me an email last week asking about an attack on Christians in Tamil Nadu. This makes it sound as though the state is full of religious tension, but that’s not the case. Just as in any other country many ‘religious’ problems can often be about something else.

The caste system is illegal in India yet, particularly in the villages, the prejudices still survive and the dalits (untouchables) are still treated as though they are worthless by some higher caste people. There are often reports of this in the newspapers. For example you will hear of exclusively Hindu villages where the dalits are not allowed into certain temples, and sometimes the other villagers build walls across the road to stop them walking past the temple, even if it means a detour of miles for the dalits to reach their homes. This is, of course, illegal and the rulings usually find in the favour of the dalits and the walls come down. Many dalits are Christians and so tensions between them and other villagers can often be classed as religious problems rather than facing the issues of caste.

As well as caste problems there are often village feuds which have gone on for generations, sometimes the protagonists are of different religions – and so it is reported as a religious problem. Or you may find a young couple choosing to marry rather than have an arranged marriage. This always causes tension in the rural villages, but when the couple are of different religions it can be even worse. There have also been cases where a rich Hindu has converted and given a great deal of wealth to the church, he has then been targeted by ‘anti-Christian’ forces – who often turn out to be disgruntled family members who feel they have lost a part of their inheritance. Having said this, there are small groups of Hindus who target people of other faiths but these are not the norm and are not tolerated by the huge majority of the population.

The south Indians are a rather voluble people and can be physical at times. Arguments and sometimes fights can break out between two people with family members and neighbours joining in, but they usually quickly die down again. There are even problems with the well educated whom you think should know better. Please take a look at these two newspaper articles in the Times of India and the Hindu about lawyers rioting in the High Courts and causing injuries to judges, police and journalists as well as damaging property. If this is how the well educated try to get their way in India then is it surprising that the less educated, sometimes illiterate villagers resort to violence to try to sort out their problems? Please let me say here though that although these things happen I have now lived in India for over three years and have never seem any violence of this sort (neither have any of our guests, and certainly none have ever felt threatened during their travels in south India). Indeed, all I have seen is the odd family squabble as I pass through a village – and I’ve seen much worse than that outside an English pub on a Saturday night!

From what I can find out about the incident my friend mentioned (I think it is the same one), a group of Christians had gone to a Hindu area with a van fitted with a megaphone and were preaching evangelical tracts and trying to convert the local Hindus. (I am unsure whether the Christians were from the local community or elsewhere). When the local Hindus asked them to stop the Christians refused and continued to use the megaphone. The Hindus then stole the keys of the vehicle, smashed the megaphone, tore up religious materials and beat up some of the Christians. Whilst I in no way condone any of those actions I can’t help feeling that the Christians in this particular case were inflammatory in the way they approached their preaching. If people want to evangelise then there are surely better ways to go about it without antagonising the local pop[ulation? (I’m a Christian myself). This particular incident was settled by the police sitting down with both sides and coming to a compromise so that in the end the Christians did not feel the need to file a case against their attackers.

India has laws protecting people’s right to their faith and to be free from persecution or from others making derogatory remarks. These laws are used by Christians as well as people of other faiths for their protection. There was recently an interesting article about ‘India’s god laws’ in the Hindu newspaper  I suppose, in summary, I’m saying (and this is purely my own personal view) that yes there are instances of religious intolerance in India but I don’t think they are as frequent as many would believe and sometimes stem from other problems in the local communities. The issues tend to be localised and the vast majority of people never come into contact with problems. I have certainly never felt threatened because of my faith, but of course I am a foreigner writing from a newcomer’s perspective so I can’t truly know what it is like for some Indians in their small village communities. I just hope that as India emerges more and more into a leading role on the world stage that tolerance and understanding will grow hand in hand with wealth and technology.

(Around 6.1% of Tamils are Christian, and about 5.6% are Muslim; in some area such as the extreme south east Christians make up almost half of the population, about 44%).

Parakeets and drum sticks

We have trees in our garden at Lakeside which grow long thin seedpods known locally as drum sticks.

These are a common ingredient in curries and our staff avail themselves of many of our drumsticks.  We do, however, like to allow a few to remain on the trees and ripen, they are then very dry and inedible for humans – but the Rose-ringed parakeets love them!

It is now the season for ripe drumsticks!

Lakeside in the news

Since coming to live in Tamil Nadu Pete and I have worked hard to improve the accommodation and facilities at Lakeside. Our hard work has meant that we have not done as much exploring of this beautiful and fascinating country as we would like, but it has paid off by providing a great place for other travellers to stay. We are always happy to meet new guests and spend time with them, learning about their lives and telling them a little about what it is like to live here in India.

Our hard work has also been recognised by others. The prestigious Indian newspaper, the Hindu, wrote an article about us two years after we arrived here, and now the Swindon Advertiser has also written a feature about us.  I hope you enjoy reading them!

A rocky pillow to keep you safe.

Dindigul is our nearest town (about 27km from Lakeside) where we go to buy anything we can’t get from the local village.  The town is centered around a large rock formation in the middle of a plain and gets its name from a Tamil description of this rock (“Thindu” meaning pillow and “kal” meaning Rock)

Dindigul is most famous for its locks, safes, spinning mills and leather tanning, but its true importance and the reason for it initial siting here is its strategic position.

On such a flat plain an imposing rock like the one at Dindigul holds commanding views of the area and was the ideal place for a fort.  The town which sprang up around it soon became a crossroads – North to Bangalore, East to Chennai and Pondicherry, South to Madurai and Kanyiakumari and west into the state of Kerala. 

The oldest structures on the hill (280 ft. high) are a Hindu temple and other religious remains (possible Jain remains in one of the caves).  The site must have been used as a place of defense for thousands of years but the first recorded large fort was begun in 1605 by the Madurai King Muthu Krishna Naicker and finished by Mannar Thirumalai Naicker between 1623 to 1659.  In 1755 the famous Hyder Ali took his wife and five year old son Tipu Sultan to Dindigul; after his fathers death Tipu Sultan took over the fort in 1784 and ruled there until he was defeated in the ‘Mysore Wars’ in 1790 when the British took over and had a garrison there until 1860.

There are a number of buildings surviving on the top of the hill, and you can see the remains of a remarkable rain-water-harvesting system which meant that, unless there was a severe drought, the fort could be self-sustaining in water and so withstand a siege.  The defensive walls extend around the whole of the summit except for in the southern side which is so steep that no attacking force would be able to succeed. Some of our guests take a walk to the top of the hill (early morning before it gets too hot!) and enjoy the views which stretch for miles.

Versatile Blogger Award – Thank you

I have recently been nominated for the Versatile Blogger award for the second time.  Many thanks Roopaushree, I really do appreciate the fact that people like what I do!

To fulfil the requirements of the award let me first tell you 7 things about myself:

  1. I love mangoes so it’s great to have my own tree!
  2. I do not like Marmite!
  3. My best friend is my husband.
  4. I enjoy observing wildlife.
  5. Give me a good book and I’m happy.
  6. I am researching my family history – and I find it fascinating.
  7. I love writing and will be setting up my own website soon.

I would like to nominate the following sites for the Versitile Blogger Award.  Some of the blogs I like because they are so informative, some I like for their view of life, others for their great photography, and others because they take me to parts of the world I’ve never seen before!  Thank you all for adding variety and spice to my internet life!

India Travel Blog

Serenity Spell

Smaked Pentax

Dames of Dialogue

501 Places

Magic aperture

Velvet Escape

A summers day beside the lake

The hot season has arrived here at Lakeside.  Today it is 37 degrees in the shade!  We still get some guests at this time of year, but not as many as usual so May is the month for my husband, Pete, to carry out essential maintenance work whilst I focus on the marketing side of the business.

In the hot season I rise with the sun, take the dog for a walk by the lake, then feed him and the horse before getting my breakfast of fresh fruit juice, eggs, toast and coffee, all taken on the veranda while enjoying the view of the lake.  Then it’s time to exercise Raja (the horse) before a few hours working in the office.

Everyone gets tired in this heat so lunch is followed by a siesta – and that’s not just the humans!

Afternoon siesta!

I spend my afternoons either in the office or researching tours, or maybe shopping before a welcome swim in our pool.  If I have time I try to practice my Tamil which is not an easy language to learn!

Guests enjoying a dip in our pool!

The day winds down with drinks on the roof as the sun sets, and a great Indian meal cooked by our staff.  Then early to bed to be ready for sunrise tomorrow.

I must admit, I love my life!

TripAdvisor reviews

One of the things I enjoy about my life at Lakeside is the opportunity to meet guests from all over the world – from America to Australia to Europe, and all points in between!  Many of our guests have been kind enough to write reviews of their stay with us.  We really do appreciate all of the positive comments as it makes our work here seem so worthwhile.  Of course, we couldn’t do it without our excellent staff. Some recent guests have just written a review which can be seen here.  You never know, it might just whet your appetitie for a visit to Lakeside!