Friday, November 21, 2008

A banyan tree at the Theosophical Society. Banyan trees are good to do samayama on (meditating as a way of absorbing the qualities of the item upon which you are focused). They live to be very old, like our redwoods; are flexible enough to bend and not break in a heavy wind; can support the weight of many people; and were used as massive sun umbrellas in times when the priest of the village would gather all the people together for a meeting or ritual - and everyone could fit under the canopy of a single banyan tree. Their roots are remarkable - like tree trunks on their own.
Next, the Kapalishvara temple, the most famous temple in Chennai, and dedicated to Shiva. His consort Parvati has a small temple in the courtyard.
Me, standing on a stool on the porch, so that you can see my work duds. I need this stool to reach the clothesline.
Other quotidian details, but critical: our water supply. Today was water delivery day. The guys lugged six of these big jugs up four flights of stairs, carrying the bottle on their shoulder. Cost: 475 rupees or about $10. We use the water for all drinking and cooking, for brushing our teeth (it's hard to get out of the habit of turning on the faucet and running your brush under the water to rinse the toothpaste off), and for making ice cubes. In Chicago, I rarely bother. Here, a cold drink tastes refreshing.
Our bedroom. Very peaceful,Italic except when the people next door turn the television on. Lately, it's been quieter. In the courtyard of the building, a woman washes her dishes by a faucet. On the roof, two satellite dishes. (To my dismay, I can't watch Dancing with the Stars - American websites don't allow watching of episodes online outside the States. Who regulated that one, and why?There is an Indian version but so far I've only found short clips and not a full episode, but would be happy to watch that as well.)
The kitchen. A two-burner gas stove with gas supplied in large containers. Guys lug these up the stairs, too, but I'm hoping we'll not need to refill them this month. More water, because I don't want to run out and I do want to leave some for the next tenants, and we could go through this much, in any case. Here, water is like gold. It hasn't rained much this year and all of the drinking water for Chennai comes from rain, so things are very dry.
And that stove - that's all for cooking sources. Because who would turn on an oven when the winter average temperature is in the high 80s? On the other hand, what about a childhood with no home-cooked brownies or chocolate chips? And no roasted vegetables? You buy your sweets and cakes at the store, so baked goods are available, but I'm intent on finding a way to make toast on a stove, because I miss toast with breakfast.





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