Saturday, 26 October 2013

Our trip to Mahabs.

So last Sat we donned our helmets and made the 100km road trip up the coast to Mahabalipuram.

It's a world heritage site with one of the oldest temples in the whole of South India as well as being famous for it's stone carvings. I went there with C six years ago but we only had the briefest of stays there overnight last year on the last leg of our two day journey back to AV from Goa. More info here: Mahabs Wiki Page. We left at around 8.30am and arrived about two hours later. After a late breakfast we went for a wander. 
We went in one of the many shops selling the most beautiful carvings...

...before heading to the park containing some of the main attractions. Here is me and K by the free standing rock known as Krishna's Butter Ball:

Then we stopped to take in the view:

Here's a carving from between the 7th - 9th century:

And a temple carved entirely from one rock:

Finally ending up at the Pancha Rathas, a  five monolithic pyramidal structures named after the Pandavas (Arjuna, Bhima, Yudhishtra, Nakula and Sahadeva) and Draupadi. Despite their sizes each of these is carved from one single large piece of stone.

And for a little perspective of how impressive they are:

After a rest at the hotel we headed out to the shore temple - built in 700 - 728 AD. One of the oldest structures in the whole of South India.

Mahabs at dusk:

The next morning we headed out to Croc Bank just a few km North of Mahabs (Croc Bank)

Most of the crocs were just lying about although one gave us a smile!

Interesting to see the types of reptiles found in the wild in our area. After the crocs we headed to the snake house and saw a talk and display of the four venomous snakes which was a real education for both me and K. So far I'd just seen two rat snakes which are harmless. K really jumped when the keeper make the cobra strike!

After that we went back to Mahabs for some lunch before heading home. About half an hour from home we drove into torrential rains - a little bit of monsoon. Was so nice to get home and dry.
There's not really been any rain since even though it is officially monsoon season. C keep tracking it's progress down to us online. Because AV is on a plateau we seem to miss rains that even hit Pondy just 8km away. We all want the rain!
Anyway, that was our trip. Was so nice to have a night away and I look forward to more in the future.
Thanks for reading. Laura.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Our House part 2

Hi there!
I wanted to talk about the outside of our house today. It's a big thing for me and C as for all of my 10 (and C's 8) years of town living, I never had a garden which for someone raised in the country is not so nice. I had a few potted plants but that is not the same.
Our house was the last to be finished in the community so the ground outside of the house is not in great shape. Very hard with varying amounts of cement, bits of wire, plastic etc embedded within it. It's going to take a lot of work but it's so satisfying to see the results of said hard work. We also have a total of 8 troughs on our 2 balconies so have a lot of space to fill!
One of the first things to be done was to have some steps built to our front door. Before we just had earth which once monsoon kicks in will quickly become mud. We had two workers come and dig up the ground in front of the door, then they laid bricks where the steps would be and filled it with concrete before returning the next day to cover the concrete with various shards of slate in a mosaic style pattern. Here are the before, during and after photos:

We're really happy with it and the work only came to the equivalent of £20.
The next part has been to create a kind of boundary as our house in on an end of a block. This means that people often walk over our garden to get to their houses and it's useful to know what kind of area we have to work with. When we arrived there were blocks of stone marking a boundary which needed moving and replacing with bamboo, it was under one of the stones that I met my first scorpion! C had to kill it as we have to be very careful that K doesn't touch one of these.
Here's the bamboo boundary:

Two of the plants we have been given is the desert rose which you might be able to just see in the above photo, it has started to flower and has the most beautiful blooms:
On the balconies, we are now growing basil plants which do well here as well as tomatoes, tulsi, lemongrass and a baby papaya tree. K has been 'given' the papaya tree so hopefully he'll see it grow, be transferred to the ground and eventually eat fruit from it.


Here are the basil plants on the left, including some wild basil on the right side of the left trough. In the other trough we have some tulsi and then lots of baby tomato plants. They're doing well so far and it has been so satisfying to eat home grown basil in our pasta sauce.

This is a leaf of a type of succulent which grows baby plants all around it

Here it is  getting bigger with another new plant (not sure of the name)

A friend of ours, who we stayed with last year has lived here for 30 years and has a very well established garden, she's kindly given us a number of plants and has invited us to take cutting of whatever we like. it's a great help as it could get very expensive to buy all the plants we'd like. Looking forward to growing more and filling up the other troughs soon.
That's all for now as have to pop out before lunch.
We're off up the coast to Mahabalipuram (Mahabalipuram Wikipedia link) for a night tomorrow. I first went there with C 6 years ago and it has so many wonderful carvings and temples to see. There is also a crocodile sanctury/zoo nearby which we plan to take K to, will report back on our return. I also want to show you photos from our visit to the Auroville Botanical Gardens at some point.
Thanks for reading.
Laura x



Monday, 7 October 2013

K's Birthday

Yesterday (6th) was K's 4th birthday. The day was great fun from the start. He got some lego sent from the UK which he and C enjoyed building in the morning.

I then went to our neighbours to make his cake using a cake tin which is used on the hob - perfect for here where ovens are a luxury. K had a nice morning playing with our neighbours two girls (the youngest will be 4 in a weeks time) and then we went for lunch and had a lovely meal of chicken tikka masala and palak paneer (spinach and cheese) with buttered naan bread.
Then it was time to prepare for our guests, we decided not to throw a big party as we're still settling in so we invited the kids from our community (the sisters, another little boy and a baby girl) plus two brothers whom K is friendly with. We made some snacks plus lemon juice and iced tea for everyone.

Then the afternoon passed in a blur of bubbles, balloons, sweets and bike riding. K had a great time and so did we :)

This morning we dropped him off for his first day at kindergarten armed with a bag of sweets to share with the kids there - it's tradition to give sweets when it's your birthday rather than receive which I think is a nice thing. His teacher said that they are going to the Matrimandir gardens today so I'm hoping he has a good day.
That's all for now.