09 July, 2011


written a couple of weeks ago in Pollachi...

The monsoon is outside, I’m inside, dry, lying on a bed of coconut husk.

Pollachi is in the southern end of Tamilnadu, in a valley between two mountain ranges to the west and the east. The monsoon hits twice here, coming in from both directions.

Coconut palms thrive in this region, and are, by my witness, the most extensively farmed crop by far. They have a wide network of shallow roots so they collect and store water quickly from sudden downpours.

And the torrent continues outside.

Earlier today Sam and I were caught in the middle of it. We left her uncle’s house as he was trying to convince us of the “interestingness” of the family coconut husk mattress factory, which is actually probably interesting, and if we’d had time and will we would perhaps have toured interestedly, but the emphasis on “interesting” as not only its best but also its only descriptor inclined us to leave it for another day. Less gently I could say that Sam's absolute refusal to entertain the possibility and her loud claims of "It's not interesting! It's boring!" refuted only by her uncle's calm but deflated reclamation of "It's actually very interesting." dissuaded me slightly.

So we were on our way on the two block walk home, just talking about the unnecessarity of having a driver waiting for you in a car outside after you drive two blocks to see your brother whose house you can see from your doorstep, when the rain hit and we sprinted back to the car to dive into the dry back seat. Sam’s dad Ram came running out of the house to join us and we rode together in shelter back to the house where my body and shoes became soaked on the 12 foot awkwardly-through-the-confusingly-latched-gate walk to the house, even under the umbrella we shared.

From the roof I can see many similar, flat with full access, and efficiently drained as the water dumps down. I think it might be a good idea to catch it all and store it somewhere, but a full understanding of the current extent and the potential forgone alternatives eludes me. I should do some research.

We are living in a suburban community. Pollachi is a suburb of Coimbatore, and this house specifically is in a quiet neighbourhood of friendly folks and garlic salesmen with our family all within walking distance. Popping in for meals, planning events and negotiating their logistics to the unnecessary degree, sleeping in, and confusingly arguing about nothing at all combine to provide some entertainment and activity in the laid back, slow-paced atmosphere.

In two days here I’ve observed much, learning about family, education, weather, wildlife, politics, utilities, food (of course), and [fooling] around. It has been great.

And everything always seems to work out with the right environmental stimuli. Our minds are put at complete ease with a simple gaze across the densely packed landscape of trees and green. Relaxation is automatic as Pollachi prescribes double doses of chill pills to any and all. Worries melt away, the world seems right from here no matter what. All problems seem soluble and irrelevant. Morning coffee and afternoon tea keep you on just the right number of your toes. And pauses abound for introspection and reflection, easily and even unexpectedly arriving with a quick glance across the rooftops for a higher perspective.

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