mmmmmmmMangoes!

I love mangoes, and it is currently mango season here in Tamil Nadu. There are few things nicerer than plucking a ripe juicy mango fresh from your own tree and eating it while it is still warm from the sun.

Our guests love the mango chutney we serve with our samosas. Perhaps you’d like to try to make some – it’s easy as long as you can get hold of the manoges!

Ingredients

6 green mangoes

2 x 5ml spoons salt

3-4 red chillis roughly chopped OR 2 x 5 ml spoons chilli powder

300ml malt vinegar

400g sugar

30g fresh ginger root peeled and finely chopped

50g raisins (optional)

Method

Peel the mangoes, chop finely and put in a bowl with the sugar for about 25 minutes.

Grind the chillis (or use the chilli powder) and mix with a small amount of the vinegar until you have a smooth paste.

Put the sugar and vinegar into a thick bottomed pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved.

Squeeze the juice out of the mangoes with a spoon, put the flesh on the pan and gently simmer for about 6-7 minutes.

Add the chilli paste and ginger, mix well and cook for 12-15 minutes.

Stir in the raisins and cook for 4 – 5 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Bottle in sterilised jars – don’t forget to use lids that won’t be affected by the vinegar.

Enjoy!

Thanks and apologies

Thank you to Crazy Train To Tinky Town for nominating me for the Lovely Blog Award. This means a great deal to me as I love her blog – it is guaranteed to raise a smile at least, but more often than not have me laughing out loud. This blog is a book/movie in the making so you must check it out.

I now come to the apology. I live in rural India where we have very poor internet connectivity. On a good day I get about 120kps (yes 120 kilobytes!) but it is usually more likely to be 20 or 30 – it can sometimes take me 5 hours to do a post with a few photos in it!. As you can guess, getting to look at other peoples blogs is difficult and time consuming, often timing out before I get there, so I don’t have many blogs I follow. When things improve and I get to see more fantastic blogs I will nominate others for this award.

But to go with the spirit of this wonderful award, here are 7 things about me.

1. I became a Grandma on 21st June 2012 and little Lewis is gorgeous – only he is in the UK and I won’t get to see him ‘till October.

2. I love writing and will be published by the end of the year – even if it is via ebooks and not on paper.

3. If I drink wine it has to be a nice medium dry white – chilled of course!

4. I love mangos – and it’s mango season right now!

5. Fencing is the sport for me – I miss not being able to do it here in India

6. I love it when we have guests as I get to meet so many interesting people.

7. I was born in Cotmanhay in Derbyshire

Home from home for the writer, artist or photographer

Lakeside is not only a great place for people to stay during a tour of India but it is also somewhere where creative people of all kinds can take an extended stay giving them the opportunity to work in a peaceful and secluded environment.

We are able to accommodate writers, artists and photographers in one of our cottages, as well as those looking for an extended stay to escape the increasingly cold winters of Europe.

I can guarantee that the peace and quiet of Lakeside really does work for the writer. Since coming here I have been developing my writing and have now launched my own website. I already have some positive feedback from an agent and hope to be published by the end of the year! So, for all you creative types out there, please do consider Lakeside as somewhere where you can develop your work – whilst enjoying and exploring India at the same time!

A little love goes a long way – Relief Projects India

We meet many people from all walks of life, and of all nationalities, who come to stay with us at Lakeside.  We recently had a couple come to stay with us just for one night who live and work locally (in Madurai) and needed to get away for a break. I’m pleased to say they left feeling refreshed and ready for work once more.

 

Jesse (from America) and Susanna (from England) first came to Tamil Nadu in the aftermath of the Tsunami to do whatever they could to help the injured and homeless. Then, in 2007, they set up their own charity – Relief Projects India.

Female infanticide is still a problem in many rural areas of India and the first project that Jesse and Susanna were involved with was rescuing baby girls. For westerners it is still hard to believe that families will kill perfectly healthy baby girls just because they are girls. On the positive side there are many childless Indian couples who want to adopt, and they are willing to take a girl as they just want a baby, any baby, of their own. Many children have been placed this way, but those who are physically or mentally challenged are not so lucky. Jesse and Susanna are now planning projects to help these children. They are also working to help educate women and teenage girls in the hope that they will then have a brighter future.

Please take a look at the wonderful work that these people are doing.  Jesse and Susanna do not take a salary from the charity, every penny raised goes to the children while they themselves live off their retirement benefits. A truly remarkable couple who show just what can be done with a little love, dedication and determination.

The photographs are taken for the Relief Projects India website.

Where oceans meet

We recently spent a couple of days at Kanyakumari whichis the southernmost tip of India where the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet.  The town takes its name from the Hindu goddess Kanyakumari and there is a temple dedicated to her on the seashore.  Pilgrims flock to this place for a blessing from the goddess.  It is considered highly auspicious to see the sunrise and/or the sunset from the shore at Kanyakumari. Due to its position it is even possible on some special occasions to see both sunset and moonrise over the ocean at the same time.

 

Kanyakumari has a long history, mentioned by the Roman historian Ptolemy as a centre for pearl fishing.  The two main businesses now are tourism and fishing.

 

 

 

 

The fishermen go out in small wooden boats, indeed many locals were killed when these small boats and their homes were hit by the Tsunami in 2004.

 

 

 

 

Mending nets in Kanyakumari

 

You are often able to see the fishermen mending their nets during the heat of the day.

 

 

 

 

Two of the main tourist attractions are on small rocky islands just off shore. 

 

 

Statue of the Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar

 

One houses the 41 meter (133 feet) tall statue of the Tamil saint-poet Thiruvalluvar. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is possible to climb up inside the base of the statue.  Standing at the feet and looking up along the towering body is an awesome sight.

 

Vivekananda Rock Memorial

 

The second island is home to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial with a meditation hall dedicated to swami Vivekananda who is said to have meditated on the island for three days. 

 

Vivekananda Rock Memorial

 

 

To spend time in the hall (whether meditating or not) imparts a wonderfully calm feeling.

 

 

 

 

 

From the island you can look back at the mainland where the foothills of the western ghat mountains begin to rise.  In the foreground you can see Our Lady of Ransom church

 

Gandhi Memorial Building

 

On the mainland is the Gandhi Memorial Building.  After the Mahatmas cremation some of his ashes were kept in an urn here before being scattered at the confluence of the three seas. 

 

 The building is ingeniously constructed, and on Gandhi’s birthday, 2nd October, the first rays of the rising sun illuminate the exact spot where his ashes were kept.

It is possible for us to arrange visits to Kanyakumari for those who come on one of our tours of south India.

An Indian Catholic wedding in Tamil Nadu

We recently attended the wedding of some Indian Christian friends.  The groom has been incredibly helpful to us in banking matters since our arrival in India, and we now feel like a part of his family.  The couple both come from a village on the south-east coast of Tamil Nadu – a very strong Christian area with Portuguese influence.

 

 

 

As with all Indian weddings music is very important and each couple hires a band to welcome them to the church and lead them in procession from it.

 

 

 

Here, the groom is entering the church under a double umbrella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have been to many Indian weddings and they all have their attraction.  There is a calm solemnity in the Muslim weddings, and a lively exuberance in the Hindu weddings.  I personally found the Catholic Christian wedding service and mass most enjoyable because the entire congregation participated in the hymns, creeds and prayers.  For me there was a sense of participation which I found quite moving.

 

 

 

 

During the service the couple made their vows and exchanged rings before lighting candles around a cross.  They also exchange beautiful garlands which is a typical part of all Indian weddings, no matter what the religion.

 

The bride wore a beautiful traditional sari, and also a white veil and train at least 10 feet long!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As they emerged from the church after the service the band played loudly and enthusiastically while the happy couple were led to their car under the double umbrella.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the reception they cut the cake

which was shared with the guests whilst the couple made themselves comfortable on their ‘throne’ on the stage.

 

 

 

Guests then went in turn to formally great the couple on the stage and wish them all the best for the future.

 

 

 

We wish the happy couple all the best for their future life together!