A peak at what’s around

I had the chance to visit the Kanavu Pattarai camp in Andhra Pradesh.  I was mostly in the very southern tip of that state where Tamil Nadu and Kerala come together.  First we traveled by train, and toured around in a car until we got to Kuppam.  That is where the camp was held.  The landscape was very similar to the southwest.  Dry, arid, blue skies, and puffy clouds.  It felt like a very familiar place.  I loved the Southwest when I lived there, and I really got used to being in this type of environment again.  If felt so familiar.

It was the perfect setting for the camp.  Very quiet, serene, beautiful.  Rambling vistas everywhere to just stare at, and take a very deep breath.  I think students would have no problem feeling inspired to create in this space.  In the morning and evenings it was quite cool.  However, just as you may have guessed, the day time was hot.  You really had to keep up your fluids up here, or else, heat exhaustion.  I loved visiting the Agastya Foundation and staying on their campus for those few days.  It was a great break from the traffic, humidity and people-packed city.  It would have been great to see more of the State itself, but I was happy I got to see  this small corner.

 

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The conductor of the train, wearing  nice jacket, but what you don’t see is the clipboard.  It had a very colorful cartoon character, and a unicorn on it!
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AC.
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Trains fill up fast, sometimes it was standing room only.  Not to mention 3 people to one long bench.
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Everyone has there hustle.  There are people selling everything: toys, jewelry, games, food, snacks, tea.  You name it, you can probably get it.
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Part of one of the schools we visited on our way to Agastya.
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Streets are far less busy here than Chennai.
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Trucks, palms, and mountains.
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Watching the sunset, was lovely.
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Small town we passed through to get to Agastya.  We had some tea and chips.

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We drove far away from the towns and villages to a huge plot of land that is the campus of Agastya Foundation.  We crossed over this big water body and we realized there was a full moon. 
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Outside of our dorm they are building a shrine to Agastya.
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After breakfast we walked the road to the art camp building.
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View from art camp.

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Another view from Art Camp.

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Typical South Indian Cuisine! That big spot is for the rice!
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You can tell it’s hot.

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View from camp.

Yep, more Kerala

It was definitely a nice retreat to stay in Kerala for a few days.  It was extremely cool, quiet, and fresh.  We had great meals everyday, and had a very leisurely time.  We played games, ate food, walked around and basically felt like we were taken care of.  The quietness can be shocking after being in the city for a time.  I was used to the city traffic and constant hum.  However, once you refocus your senses to listen to the natural settings of the babbling brook, the bird calls, the monkey knocking at your door (really, they did), you then begin to feel like yourself again.

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This dancer was one of the employees of the hotel.  She performed twice while we were there.  Her expression and movement we amazingly controlled.
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South Indian dance tells traditional stories.  All of the performers I saw when I was in India had studied this particular kind of dance as children.
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The monkey knocking on the door.  You  MUST lock your door at all times, or they will come in.
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Just waiting.

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We took an evening walk through the old tea farms.  Such a peaceful place and nice vantage points.

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Before we leave, one last photo.

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Don’t know the name of this game, but we played it.  Made our own rules too.
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Daily treats and tea time.  Yum!

Kerala and the camera

As I keep going through my pictures for this blog, I realize that I’m really only half way through.  I took so many pictures, probably too many.  But it was all in an effort to remember, and even feel what it was like to be there.  Let’s face it, I am a visual person.  I like looking at things.  I definitely remember telling myself to stop taking pictures and to just be in the moment and to pay attention to the present.  That’s really hard for me when there’s so much to look at.  I guess that is a failure of technology, in a sense.  We can use it to remember things for us, when we should actually be remembering the time we spent doing, being, and living.  I do love taking pictures, but I also know it’s important to step away from the camera lens, to just let whatever happens, happen.  I love that I can capture moments, or observe something in a different way with a camera.  That’s exactly it’s job, because even then, you can alter what others see.  Your first edit is deciding what you are taking a picture of.  I don’t alter my photos much, I usually just leave them the way they are. That is also giving that environment, that moment, that object, that person a particular point of view.  These pictures are a view of what I saw, what I wanted to remember, but it’s definitely not the way it was or is.

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We could have opted for the tree house experience, but had a villa instead.  Maybe next time?
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One morning Charlene and I went for a nature walk with a naturalist.  It was all up hill, foggy, and humid.
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Our guide, as we lag behind– or are taking pictures.
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Fog was slowly lifting, but it wasn’t very clear that morning.

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Later that day we went to a nearby lake,  it was very reminiscent of Burke Lake in Virginia.  A place where people go for a walk, rent a canoe, and picnic.

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Emerging from the mud.

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These blossoms were all over the place.  I have no idea what they’re called.  I nicknamed them “fraggle flowers”.  Obviously.

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The old playground is still used by children (and adults).  This monkey looks a little concerned.

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On the way back from the Lake, we stopped along one of the view points.  The view was foggy at best, but we were definitely a long way up.
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The boy and his family were so sweet. He wanted to make sure we knew that he knew English.  They asked if we could take photos with them, and then I asked them the same.

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Seriously, Burke Lake?? or India?

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Oh the cafes

If I was feeling homesick, or had hankering for some western food, there was no where better than visiting a nice cafe, sitting outside or being around art and greenery.  It was a nice treat, and one I always looked forward to.  One of the best things was things about these western style cafes is that they would make the best dish they could make.  You want a waffle?  You got the best waffle.  You want a granola with your fruit bowl?  You got the best granola someone could make.  You want a creamy pasta dish?  You can get a creamy pasta dish, with homemade pasta.  All of the cafes had something special and tasty to eat, no matter what it was.  If it was on the menu, that means they were good at making it.  Here are a few pictures of a few cafes I frequented in four months.

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Fried momos from a Tibetan restaurant.
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I went to this particular cafe weekly…for the insanely good coffee, extremely consistent wifi, and impeccable service.
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The best fruit salad in the world.
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A cool beverage to sooth the palette on a very hot day.
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Dosa reign supreme in this part of the world.
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Another Tibetan restaurant. I just can’t say no to momos
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An artful cafe.
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Seriously, have you seen a bathroom door that looked like this?
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Just a lovely coffee.
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Ambience.
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Greenery.
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Someone upped their game on art and advertising. 
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But no matter what, you can’t beat a freshly made tea or coffee from your neighborhood tea walla
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The crispiness of this dosa.
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Some cafe’s like to have a theme.  There was no “bier” in this biergarten, however.
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A lunch of delicious snacks.
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Sometimes you just want some spicy tomato soup and naan.
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Beautiful flowers surround you at this cafe.
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Marble tables ready to be filled with some food and drink.
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Or..I’ll always take a view of the ocean.
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Hot coffee served fresh.
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Or- some fresh pakora, with a dipping sauce.
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Followed by a cappuccino.
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Or a freshly squeezed lemon soda.
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Who am I kidding?
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Have you ever seen a cafe with it’s own banana tree?
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Cafe art paying homage to the old and new.
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Monkey-ng around.

More from “Pondi”

Just some snap shots around my friend’s neighborhood.  There were some fun shots being taken as I looked down from the roof of their apartment building.  It seems like you get even more of a peak at real life when no one things you’re watching.  Big thanks to the little boy busting a move on the top of his roof top!  But, my roof top is higher then yours!

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This kid was dancing, jumping off the tall stool, and stretching. He was hilarious to watch.  We made our presence known when we were looking out the window, but that didn’t seem to stop him.
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Yeah, why don’t we give time a break.  Come on.
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Cracks in the street started my map series for my artwork.  These cracks are amazing.
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Color, floors, a quaint doorstep to where?
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Nice empty streets, not too many of those in Chennai (except on Sunday mornings).
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More quaintness from Puducherry.
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So many of the gates are extremely decorative, you could just take pictures of these all day long.
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Don’t front, city style.  Such a strange representation on a main street in Puducherry.
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Inspiring color combos and pattern.
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Old, rusty doors.
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These are IN FACT chocolate butterflies stuck to the ceiling of a chocolate shop.
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Roof tops.
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More roof tops.  You see a lot of variety.  There are thatched ones, flat ones, corrugated ones, plastic covered ones, and a mixture of all of them.  People make due with what they can get.
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Roof advertising, “Vote for him”. (I’m not really saying vote for him, this blog in no way supports any candidates of any political background or country)
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These bikes were just propped up against this wall, we followed the line of bikes and it led to a bike shop.  All the parts are used and re-sued for other bikes.
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Duality of it all.
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We thought there was a lot going on here.
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Old, yet colorful. Showing it’s wear well.
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Train, cathedral.  Both are really easy to hear from this vantage point.
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Zooming in.
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I’ve noticed this in Chennai too.  There are quite a few buildings that are just cut off, or 1/2 torn down.  From what I can tell, at least in Chennai, they decided to knock part of the buildings down to build the road through the area.  I am not quite sure what is happening here, but that’s what it reminds me off.
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Little side street, where my friends live.
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Chartreuse, if there ever was such a color!!
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Thatched roof on top of the apartment building!
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A look from below.
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Signage.
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More gates.
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More color, another thatched roof, kolam, and tree poles.
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COLOR!
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ferme, for sure.
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So much happening.
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No goats this time, and no train….hummmmmm.
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A simple one to end on.

Details from Agra Fort

It’s time for another flashback.  This time some of the details at Agra Fort.

Agra Fort is about a mile and 1/2 from Taj Mahal in Agra.  It’s completely walled and gigantic!  This was the last site I visited on my trip in India last year and, although a wonderful site, I found it to be overwhelming.  Not just because of the size and details.  The history of Agra Fort is rich and dramatic.

Built by the Mughals in the 11th century, it was held and captured over and over again through different kings and sultans. The fort was also the secondary capital at one point. The fort went back and forth between Mughals and Hindus for quite some time, and finally landed in the hands of Akbar (a famous Mughal leader).  Apparently this family had a lot of issues and there are lots of stories about family members taking revenge on each other.  The most notable act of revenge was on Shah Jahan.

Shah Jahan was famous for building the Taj Mahal for his wife.  At the end of his life, Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his son  and held captive in a tower at the fort until he died.

The pictures below just showcase a few details of this massive fort.  It really is something to see, and of course has a dreamy view of the Taj mahal.

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