Beauty and the beast

The ugliest plants in the garden…









…until the rains come!









The flowers are about 6inches (15cm in diameter) and only come out at night.   

There are certain types of moth who pollinate these flowers…

…and in the first hour after dawn the hornets come to feed.

 A beautiful and idylic scene.

But all is not peaceful in this Garden of Eden.

A spider waits…

…for breakfast!

Even on a minature level nature can be just as fascinating and exciting as

watching big game hunt their prey!





A new star rises…India Independence day

65 years ago today India became a free nation. I can think of no better way to celebrate that than to leave with you some of the words spoken by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, just moments before the midnight hour on 14th August 1947. It is surprising how, 65 years later, those words still describe the Indian nation, now moving forward into a new chapter of her history.

Happy Independence Day!

Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment, we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity…

….The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us. Are we brave enough and wise enough to grasp this opportunity and accept the challenge of the future?…

…The past is over and it is the future that beckons us now. That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfill the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today. The service of India means the service of the millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.

And so we have to labour and to work, and to work hard, to give reality to our dreams. Those dreams are for India, but they are also for the world, for all the nations and peoples are too closely knit together today for any one of them to imagine that it can live apart. Peace is said to be indivisible, so is freedom, so is prosperity now, and also is disaster in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments.

To the people of India, whose representatives we are, we make an appeal to join us with faith and confidence in this great adventure. This is no time for petty and destructive criticism, no time for ill-will or blaming others. We have to build the noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell.

The appointed day has come -the day appointed by destiny- and India stands forth again, after long slumber and struggle, awake, vital, free and independent. The past clings on to us still in some measure and we have to do much before we redeem the pledges we have so often taken. Yet the turning-point is past, and history begins anew for us, the history which we shall live and act and others will write about.

It is a fateful moment for us in India, for all Asia and for the world. A new star rises, the star of freedom in the East, a new hope comes into being, a vision long cherished materializes. May the star never set and that hope never be betrayed!

We rejoice in that freedom, even though clouds surround us, and many of our people are sorrow-stricken and difficult problems encompass us. But freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people…

…The future beckons to us. Whither do we go and what shall be our endeavour? To bring freedom and opportunity to the common man, to the peasants and workers of India; to fight and end poverty and ignorance and disease; to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation, and to create social, economic and political institutions which will ensure justice and fullness of life to every man and woman.

We have hard work ahead. There is no resting for any one of us till we redeem our pledge in full, till we make all the people of India what destiny intended them to be. We are citizens of a great country on the verge of bold advance, and we have to live up to that high standard. All of us, to whatever religion we may belong, are equally the children of India with equal rights, privileges and obligations. We cannot encourage communalism or narrow-mindedness, for no nation can be great whose people are narrow in thought or in action.

To the nations and people of the world we send greetings and pledge ourselves to cooperate with them in furthering peace, freedom and democracy. And to India, our much-loved motherland, the ancient, the eternal and the ever-new, we pay our reverent homage and we bind ourselves afresh to her service.

Jawaharlal Nehru, 14th August 1947.


Grazing on the lake – the water of life

As the name suggests, Lakeside is situated on the banks of a lake. My header picture shows the lake when it is full.

Built in early 1950’6 as a drinking water reservoir for the nearby town of Dindigul. Kamarajar lake is named after a very famous Indian politician who was Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu and who, amongst other things, improved education and instituted free school meals in the State. 

This man-made lake covers an area of 400 acres and is filled by the north-east monsoons at the end of each year.  As the water is pumped out the level falls to reveal grazing land for local goats, water buffalo etc  The south west monsoon of July and August, which falls mainly on the mountains to our west, feeds some water into the lake and the level rises a little before continuing to fall over the next few months.

There are a number of lakes feeding Dindigul but there is never enough water.  Most people get their water from stand-pipes in the street every day or two.  As the water levels fall this can become as infrequent as once a week.

A massive project is underway to try to clear some of these tanks (artificial reservoirs).  Work has just started on de-silting part of our lake.  All day long diggers are loading up the tractors which queue to have their trailers filled with the rich earth which they then spread on the coconut plantations in the area (should be a good crop this year!).

Hopefully this will enable more water to be stored when the rains come and relieve some of the thirst in dusty Dindigul.


The sari weaver – a dying art


Sari weaving as a cottage industry

I recently took some of our guests at Lakeside on our village tour.  They were most impressed to see a sari being woven.

In India you will find whole streets of families with small businesses doing the same job – a street of carpenters, or basket makers, or tailors, or weavers.  This is most probably due to the caste system where families of the same cast tend to live together, and with the tradition of arranged marriage within family groups it means that whole streets are often one intricately connected extended family.

In the street of weavers which we visit some families weave cotton saris, some silk and some a mixture of the two fibres.

Winding the bobbins

Thread is wound onto the bobbin on a traditional spinning wheel, the bobbin is then fitted into the shuttle.

Many westerners will recognise the looms as the same as those used in Europe at the beginning of the industrial revolution with the ‘flying shuttle’.  The threads are separated by the use of foot-pedals whilst the shuttle is sent at speed back and forth across the fabric.  For saris with intricate borders there are patterns (similar to the pieces of card with holes in them which play music in a music box) which help to create these wonderful effects.

It takes about 3 days to set up a loom and 3 more to weave the sari which is about 5 meters in length.  For this a weaver will get somewhere between Rs 120 and Rs 150 per day when the costs of the materials have been deducted.  To make a living the family will need 2 looms and probably a small area of land to grow their own vegetables etc.

The weaving of a sari, like the work of the village potter, is another art that is dying out in Tamil Nadu. It pays poorly, keeping people at barely above

Foot work!

subsistence level, and the young people don’t want to learn the trade, preferring IT instead, or maybe moving to a better paid job in a town or city.  The people who make money from saris today are those with big automated factories making in bulk and employing small numbers of people.  In the future it is only likely to be those who hand-weave very expensive silk and gold saris for weddings etc who will be able to make a decent living from this trade.