Today we listened to the kids (Rahoul and Kanya) and Patti on the radio. I had to run back to the school to get my radio and somehow managed to lose my key in the short distance back to the coconut farm…it’s still not been found despite everyone in that village out looking for it. Some of the radio show was in English, some in Tamil and some in the children’s tribal languages. Everyone was wonderful and we were so proud! In between the small snippets of talking there was looooads of music and that’s when we were busy making our breakfast. Back to Indian food that morning, we were taught how to make dosa. Dosa is similar to a pancake but only semi cooked and with rice (Apparantly, although I’ve no idea how rice is in there at all) But Ma’am showed us how to do it the unhealthy way, with butter melted over it, and it was AMAZING.
After breakfast we chilled out a bit more in the coconut farm, packed up our extensive luggage and waited for the van…to take us the 5 minutes back to the school again. That day I did an INSANE amount of laundry. I had a massive overflowing bag full of it and would not have got through another day without washing. Now, washing in India is not an easy task. It involves numerous complicated and exerting stages. Firstly, we soak all our clothes in soapy water, then bring them up onto this bumpy stone block to scrub soap into all the grimy bits. We rub this up and down for about 5 minutes, swirl the clothes about in the air and smack them off the stone block until they’re ‘clean’ enough to rinse out. I’m not going to lie, after eating curry with your fingers there’s a lot of stains on your clothes. A recent purchase of stain remover and 2 and a half hours later, my clothes are finally as clean as they’re going to get!
This evening, after planning lessons, dawdling about the place and washing clothes, we were called for the ultimate pooja celebrations!! These were so exciting! The men who drive the van and bus and car had decorated them all so nicely and were displaying all the sacrifices or gifts for the Gods in front of the vehicles. Then they carried a lit coconut around everyone to bless themselves with the smoke and then out of no where threw it viciously down and smashed it on a sharp stone. Also, they set off firecrackers, not the same as fireworks, and I thought somebody was going to go up in flames! We all were made to eat the gifts to the gods, now they’ve been celebrated they’re exceptionally holy so we all need to eat it up. We were given fruit, strange puffed up rice which was similar to a salty version of rice crispies, sugar cane and then a few gross gooey things which I politely declined!
Today was the day we were leaving to stay at the coconut farm!
Patti’s son and her brothers own a vast expanse of land with a coconut farm and little tiny cottage on it. It’s just in the middle of being furnished and not that far away from the school, so last night Patti, Nandini Ma’am, Sarah, Caitlin and I all decided to go for a sleepover there! We set off in the van shortly after breakfast with all the staff coming to see us off which was hilarious-bearing in mind we can walk the distance to the farm in less than half an hour. Also there seemed to be enough stuff squished into the van to go on a 2 week holiday! We had 2 massive tubs of coffee and tea, milk powder, an immense amount of sugar, curtains, solar lamps, a humungous tub of curd…all sorts of random things were accompanying us in that journey.
After the terribly long journey we arrived at the coconut farm. Rajesh, Sarah, Caitlin and I had walked there before but this was the first time we’d see inside the house. The men who drive the van were waiting on us (more like Patti and Nandini Maam) on hand and foot and jumped out to open all the doors and show us around inside. We dumped our bags and started looking about, Patti muttering words in Tamil and tuttering whilst Nandini Maam giggled at her. The house used to be the servant block but has now been extended with a large bedroom and bathroom at each end, forming a small courtyard in the middle. It’s really basic but set in mega pretty surroundings and certainly substantial for a ‘private getaway’ for Patti’s son: TM Krishna, Tamil Nadu’s musical superstar!
We spent the day relaxing, reading and catching up on writing our diaries. In the afternoon Patti napped, the others went for a walk up the hill and I continued to laze about the house and sit outside. I also explored the farm a little more, getting lost in the trees, saying hi to the cows and playing with the kids of the family who worked there. When everyone made it back to the house (or woke up) one of the akka’s who worked there brought us some tender coconuts to eat. Now, don’t get mixed up between a tender coconut and a normal coconut-as I discovered by the Neem kids constant corrections-there’s a big difference. Basically a tender coconut is huge and green, almost hexagonally shaped and inside there’s lots of sweet milk and random bits of ‘flesh’. Flesh is just the name for the white gooey stuff which looks like raw fish and slips down your throat. I’m still not convinced how much I like tender coconuts.
We had ‘comissioned’ lunch, in Patti’s words, basically the school were just popping along with a few dishes of food for us, but we’d be making dinner ourselves. I got very excited by the arrival of the food and jumped up to help in the kitchen and hurry the particularly slow process along. We ate poppadoms (they were doughier than back home) with sambar (a basic veg curry with lots of liquid) and then relaxed for a while. Nandini Maam, Sarah and Caitlin went for a walk up a hill whilst Patti and I napped. This sleeping thing is becoming much more frequent whilst I’m in India.
That night we cooked for ourselves. Packaged and processed food is rarely new for India, thus they all get very excited by it. We had packet soup with fried cheesy toastie style things. The cheese was goey and came in little squares. To be honest, it was quite nice to have a change and they were trying so hard to treat us, despite the fact this was the last thing we wanted. After dinner, we sat about and chatted and played card games. Patti got a call asking her to appear on radio the next day to talk about our school and also a bizzarre call from her driver whilst she was in Jaipur! The call was received minutes after we had been talking about the strange man and he was just checking up to see that she remembered him. It was hilarious. Just before bed we did facemasks, Nandini Maam did not like the smell so remained untouched. But Patti, Sarah, Caitlin and I smeared the white cream all over our faces and Patti found it very amusing being our colour for a change!
Eventually, Sarah, Caitlin and I cuddled up to sleep and went to bed.