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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.