Sunday, February 6, 2011

007 How do I live here

How do I live here in Tiruvannamalai?

Well, some of you wrote that they find this blog quite interesting, though a bit alien. They would like to know how I live here, how one has to imagine this. Alright then, let me try. First of all here is the street where I stay:

And this is the house with it's protecting "entity". The house is called “Mountain Breeze” and there is indeed a breeze coming down from the mountain which feels pleasantly cool.

And now we go upstairs ...

While walking up you have the chance for some impressive visions. Sometimes the guardian spirit appears, then Shiva comes riding along on his bull ...

... and finally you can also climb up into the universe:

But let's stay here in this part of the galaxy and watch this short video clip which leads you directly to the door of my room:

The film also shows the view from "my" roof terrace. So, if you watched the video clip, you may now enter "my" room:

In the background the entry to the bathroom and toilet. 
Let's quickly take a look. A Western toilet and a shower, only cold water though.

 Then following the system of pradakshina, i.e. turning to the right, we see the sleeping area:

 Further to the right is the kitchen:

And then the view towards the door, with an additional bed
which serves as kind of a shelf:

And finally after another turn to the right the office:

I sit in such a way that I can see Arunachala through the window:

Both grids protect – the big bars against humans and monkeys and the smaller wire mesh against mosquitoes – and they are both truly necessary. However, the breeze from the mountain can pass through it without obstruction, but the view is slightly impaired. The bars create the impression of being imprisoned. But if you step outside in front of the window, you can enjoy the unimpaired view:

But back inside the room, looking up to the ceiling, you see two fans, another uncommon feature: 

On the "bed-shelf" in the following picture you can see my "high-tech" utensils:

In the background a voltage stabilizer. You still need one if you want to make sure that you computer remains in a working condition. The tangled wires are various headphones and charging units. Now we again turn to the right and there you can see my electronic multimedia centre:

And this is what it looks like when I sit there.
Yes, my hair is too short, but washed and clean.

And now let’s turn to the kitchen. Though there is no electronic equipment, but electric one, and even though the electricity is shut off daily and regularly for two hours (right now from 2 - 4 pm, but that changes every month, either this way or from 4 - 6 pm),
it is quite useful when its there.
But first let’s look at the most important commodity: water! Since you need a lot of it and for drinking clean one, I brought a water filter from Germany. It is easy to install and looks like this:

So now let’s look at the electric equipment. It consists of two immersion heaters, a small one and a big one. With the small one I can boil water for tea and coffee. Milk, if necessary or desired, is produced from milk powder and water. Of course refrigerators do exist but I don’t have one. So here is the water boiler: 

The big brother which heats up water for a hot shower looks like this:

After the shower, it is time for breakfast. First of all I make chai, the sweet Indian milk tea with spices. Boil the water, add tea and spices, let it leave to draw or a while, pour it through a strainer, add the milk powder milk – done.
I sweeten with Stevia instead of sugar.

My choices are Chai, Coffee, hot chocolate oder plain Tee.
The Chai cost 40 Rupies (60 cent) for these 85 g:  

 Drinking chocolate, 200g für 65 Rs, 1,50 $.
The coffee, imported from Italy, thus 400 Rs (almost 10 $)  for 250 g.

The Tulsi Ginger tea, 100 g -140 Rs. (3,40 $)
 18 Tulsi Jasmine teabags for 94 Rs. (2 $)
Prices are steep as both are "certified organic": 


 And then I eat a papaya – almost every day. It is wrapped up in a newspaper, costs depending on the size or rather weight 15-25 Rs. (50 cent) and looks like this:

It is easy to prepare:

Since I don’t cook I go to restaurants for „real“ food. You have a choice between names such as Mannah Cafe, Usha Hotel, Amman Roof Top Restaurant, Tasty Cafe, German Bakery, Shanti. For a meal you pay between 100 and 200 Rs. or 2,50-5,00 $. You can also eat for less, of course, but cheaper food is not necessarily cleaner. You also can have “private” meals, which means people cook in their home and one can go there and eat at a certain time. You pay 1,80 $ for a good meal. However, I prefer the relative anonymity of the restaurants and the views, the German Bakery for example:

We keep going and pass the pharmacy, next to it a phone booth:

Then there is the fruit vendor, where I always buy my papayas:

 Shortly afterwards is the small building with the ATM machine, where I can quite comfortably and free of charge get Rupees. 30 years ago getting money was a nightmare:

When you take shortcuts but even otherwise you often come across smaller or larger obstacles especially during the rainy season:

And now let's have a look at Usha's Restaurant.

You can sit inside ...

or outisde in the garden ...

and, if you want to, you can eat the buffet every day -
for 200 Rs. (4,80 $) as much as you want to:

 Here you see Usha (left) with two of her employees.
Usha is married to Peter from Hamburg, who lives in India for more than 40 years. They have 2 sons. 

We keep going and pass shops like this one ...

pass the Amman Roof Top Cafe ...

... and then reach the Tasty Café: 

Last year he building above didn't yet block the view of Arunachala.

Meanwhile it's getting darker, but I still like to bring you to Shanti. Outside waits a surprise - a spectacular sunset:

Hidden behind the name Shanti (which means peace) is a travel agency, internet café and restaurant, run by Kumar and his family. Kumar is married to a woman from Berlin. The restaurant is excellent and you can safely eat even salads. Unfortunately they don’t cook and apart from omelettes you can eat only cold food, but it is of a high quality - and you get the best coffee - even cappuccino - in town:

As I leeave Shanti, I see the young moon,
Balachandra - shanti, peace:

Back in my room, however, it isn’t always peaceful and quiet. There is often a reason to celebrate, to give a talk or play music. And, most importantly, it has to be loud, and I mean really loud. Firework is becoming increasingly popular as well. If you watch the short video clip below you get an idea what it sounds and looks like. But finally it does become quiet, just in time to fall asleep.


om shānti shānti shānti

1 comment:

  1. Incredible!, I enjoyed this so much! Do you plan to stay in India for a while or even for good? Living expenses are certainly very low. You can get a whole dinner for the price you'd pay here just for a head of lettuce. A friend of mine moved to Thailand for that reason.