Firstly, many apologies for the long gaps in updates. We’ve been trying to work out how we can put up posts more often but somehow it hasn’t happened yet, either because we’ve been too exhausted from the day’s wandering or because we’ve been some place with no network. Hopefully we’ll be all caught up with the updates and back to posting more regularly by the time we head out to Dharamsala. But then we’re off to Spiti Valley, where I’m not sure if we’ll have access to network… but wait… I’m jumping ahead of things
After our Ms. Meena shows in Calicut and a brief return to Madras to watch the World Cup finals (I didn’t watch of course but Iswar did, and somehow I got roped into the after-win celebrations), we headed off to Kollengode, where I had some personal work that took a few days.
We stayed in Kollengode at Sraddha retreat, a wonderfully peaceful organic farm just near the Chuliyar Dam. Well actually its peaceful at all times except early in the mornings when there is quite a symphony – or cacophony – depending on how you feel about it – of peacock cries for about an hour.
This is Suman, who lives at Sraddha, along with his wife Jalaja and son Nityananda. He was initially a bit reticent but then revealed a naughty sense of humour and a great passion for Krishnamurthy, philosophy, and healing. He has lived on the farm for the last twenty years and built it up from scratch with a lot of love and care. We ate our first mangoes of the summer – Banganapalli and Sindoori – and they were the most deliciously sweet juicy yummy slurpy ones that I have tasted in a long long time. Unfortunately no photo of their beautiful mangos L
Suman is open to people coming and staying or volunteering at the farm, and charges a very basic amount for food and accommodation – he has built one small cottage with two rooms which have made full use of the fact that they have a pottery on site. So there’s clay tiles, clay water jug, clay fittings, and a very interesting roof, which is a bit difficult to describe but here’s a try – it was a half-cylinder shape made up of rows and rows of tumbler-shaped clay tiles, each fitting into the next one. Phew!
Here’s a photo of another beautiful roof on the farm, this one thatched, in a small sit out area near the entrance. And ya that’s me grinning like a fool, I don’t know why. I don’t like this photo. There’s a much nicer one of just the roof but Iswar insists we use this, and as the photographer I suppose I must give him some choice, so here it is.
Suman also manages one wing of Kumbham Pottery, which was started by his brother Jinan. They have a full set up there on the farm and create some beautiful work. My favourites are the mirrors – bordered with clay tiles and designs of birds and other creatures that are found in the area. We don’t have a photo of any of the mirrors, but the bird on the left below is a small piece of one of their large murals. The guy on the right is of course getting stuff ready for firing. You can check out more about the pottery at http://www.re-cognition.org/crafts/index.html
Kollengode is right at the border of Kerala and Tamilnadu and you can hit the hills and forests in almost every direction from the town. The closest is the Nelliyampathy hill range, the base of which is just a half hour walk from the town, so we did a very short trek up the hills one morning. But it’s already well into summer and the heat is quite draining so we didn’t walk as long as I’d have liked to, and mostly spent our free time at the farm itself. The barbed wire is from one of our many walks to the bus stand – the blue makes the fence looks very friendly so we really liked it.
Iswar became pretty obsessed with the creepy-crawlies on the farm. I absolutely love the photo of the sleeping lizard. He got quite irritated when he was woken up by the flash (the lizard not Iswar – though Iswar doesn’t like to get woken up either), and there’s a series of photos of him getting more and more annoyed before falling asleep again – here’s two of them.
This guy on the left was always hanging out in the bathroom, and made me quite nervous. He was pretty huge and I was constantly worried about stepping on him by mistake. Actually I was more worried about sitting on him! The guy below was our match referee while we sat out on the porch at night and played cards. Does anyone know what he’s carrying?
This snake, sadly, was lying dead on the side of the road. We haven’t yet gotten around to checking whether it was a viper or a baby python.
And finally, here’s one of a creepy crawly that I was quite fascinated by…
And really, really finally here’s doggie and gypsy (can you guess which one’s which?) cuddling up to watch the World Cup…