Coffee, cakes and home made bread…

 

Dindigul is a very provincial town in Tamil Nadu which means that we miss the lovely cakes and coffees you can get in the UK.  To our delight a western style cafe has now opened in the town!

 

The other day I took some guests on our first visit to ‘Butterscotch Creams and Cafe’.  It has a lovely array of cakes, brioche, scones, pizzas, sandwiches as well as coffee and cold drinks.  It is also possible to buy some lovely home-baked wholemeal bread. 

 

 

Add to all that a pleasant environment, A/C and free wifi and you see that DIndigul really is trying to take one step closer to the 21st century!

 

 

 

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A light by any other name…

Deepawali light

Sorry I’ve been away for so long but I have been experiencing issues with internet connection – one of the joys of living in rural southern India!

Last week saw the whole of India caught up in the four day celebration of Deepawali (shortened to Diwali), the biggest Hindu festival. It is the festival of lights (deep meaning light and avail meaning a row i.e., a row of lights).

The origin of Diwali can be traced back to ancient India, when it was probably an important harvest festival although there are many different legends about how it began. Some believe it is the celebration of the marriage of Lakshmi with Vishnu. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. Most people worship Ganesh at home during Diwali as he is a symbol of wisdom and good fortune. Diwali also commemorates the return of Rama with his wife Sita after Rama had been in exile for 14 years. It also remembers how Rama killed the demon-king Ravana, so is a celebration of good overcoming evil. It is said that, to celebrate the safe return of their king, the people of Ayodhya lit the whole kingdom with little clay lamps and set of fireworks.

The first day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, celebrates how Krishna killed the demon king Naraka.

On the second day of the festival, Amavasya, people worship Lakshmi the goddess of wealth. Amavasya also tells the story of Vishnu who defeated the tyrant Bali and banished him to hell. Bali was allowed to return to earth once a year, to light millions of lamps to dispel ignorance and darkness and to spread love and wisdom. It is on the third day of Deepawali — Kartika Shudda Padyami – that Bali steps out of hell and lights the lamps to signify good defeating evil.

The fourth day, Yama Dvitiya, is a family day where sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

So, for four days, all of India (including Athoor village!) celebrated Diwali with lamps and fireworks which are said to be an expression of thanks to the gods for health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity; some say that the sound of the fireworks lets the gods know how thankful people are for the goodness they have received.

So, in all of the stories connected with Diwali, we see good overcoming evil, and there is the hope that this will continue through the next year. There is an expectation that humans have a part to play in this, committing ourselves to doing good deeds to bring us closer to divinity.

During the celebration of Diwali there are lights everywhere, the scent of incense and candles, a feeling of togetherness, hope and joy. And at this time, all around the world there are other people getting ready to celebrate their ‘festival of lights’. The Jews are looking forward to Channukha whilst Advent and Christmas will soon been here for Christians.

All over the world people of different faiths are celebrating together the triumph of good over evil; light dispelling ignorance and darkness; the coming of joy and hope. As a turbulent 2012 draws to a close perhaps we should take time to reflect on all the things which we share in common rather than all the things which divide us.

Diwali lights

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

When I used to live in England rain was something we put up with grudgingly, but now that I am living in India I appreciate the value of the life giving rains.  All living things, man or beast, look forward to the monsoon and welcome its arrival.  The first rains of the north east monsoon have arrived turning everything green and allowing the farmers to prepare their land ready to sow their next crops.

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

Monsoon in Kamarajar Valley

Monsoon in Kamaraj Valley

A gentle breeze from the west swirls, changes direction.

Blowing harder now, from the east.

Leaves fly from the trees;

Whirlwinds rise, dust whipped into life by the growing wind.

In the air the scent of rain.

 

Lake reflections shatter, broken by the growing waves

into a million pieces.

Lone egret takes flight.

Sambar lifts his head, questing the wind.  Turns silently

Into the forest, is gone.

 

Dark clouds billow, climbing high into the threatening sky.

The wind drops, eerie stillness descends.

Blinding flash of light.

Thunder rolls around the valley, echoes from the hills.

The sun shrouded, darkness descends.

 

The first drops raise dust, disappear into the parched earth.

Silence reigns, then thunderous roar

Of heavy rain on leaves.

Lake and mountains disappear, grey curtain hiding all.

Senses succumb to the rain.

 

Raindrops bounce, sparkling, shinning; consuming sunburned earth.

Roots reach out, greedily seeking;

Flowers raise their heads.

Verdant green revealed; leaves long hidden by yellow dust

Washed clean by the longed for rain.

Monsoon in India

The swallow and the dragonfly

I got back from the UK on Friday in time to meet some new guests who were wonderful and we really enjoyed having them here at Lakeside.  They left this morning and I took the opportunity to go for my first horse ride since arriving back (and before the next guests arrive this afternoon!)

The UK is cold and damp at the moment so it was lovely to be out in the Indian sunshine enjoying the sound of the birds, seeing the people going about their daily lives, and feeling that I’ve come home.

It has been raining recently and there are a lot of dragonflies around at the moment.  I had an awesome experience riding into the middle of a swarm of them with around 30 or 40 swallows swooping and diving to catch their lunch.  As I was on horseback the birds took little notice of me so I just halted and watched.  The were flying within inches of me around my head, under the horse, all wheeling and swooping as though in an ariel ballet.  It was a truly amazing five minutes and the best welcome back to Tamil Nadu.

I can’t take credit for this beautiful photograph.  Please check out BirdForum is you would like to see more!