Onward India

Many apologies for our silence post-Bangalore. We *had* some Internet access in some of our lodging, but it was never in our room, and it was often balky and temporary. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes in the evening, sometimes not at all. Therefore we focused on our email during the brief periods on-line, but were unable to generate posts.

The meat of our trip to India took place after Bangalore as well, which makes the silence especially frustrating because there is so much we want to share, and will in the coming days and weeks now that we have arrived home to solid Internet AND electric power (we thought our power in rural Maine was irregular, but it’s nothing compared to multiple brown-outs and black-outs EVERY DAY we experienced outside of Bangalore…)

In the meantime I can at least share our post-Bangalore itinerary:

  • Melkote, Mandya district, Karnataka state: we were hosted by the Japanada Seva Trust where we learned about their work.
  • Coonoor, Tamil Nuda state: we stayed at Acres Wild Organic Farmstay: a cheese dairy perched on the southern slopes of the Nilgiri Hills surrounded by tea plantations.
  • Coorg, Kodagu district, Karnataka state: we stayed in the bosom of the Tata Industrial Empire, Plantation Trails, amid a working coffee and spice plantation with a real Colonial spirit.

Our touring after Melkote was organized by an Indian travel company that specializes in culinary tours. They were recommended by the culinary tour company we used in China which provided us with a fabulous experience in Chengdu.

Details and pictures (I’m currently sorting through 895 pictures and videos) to come!

The sounds and fragrances of southern India

Eric is walking in the hills of Conoor in southern India. We stayed at “Acres Wild Farm” to learn about their cheese-making and cow dairy. On adjacent hillsides, tea plants are growing on terraced fields. We awoke to the sounds of (loudly broadcast) percussive singing from the local temple.

Eric walking to breakfast in the hills above Conooor, Tamil Nadu province in southern India

And I made a new friend…

Alison and "Spahti" the farm dog

Spahti, the farm dog of Tamil Nadu.

Taken For A Ride

*white* knuckle bus ride to Logan
A Literal WHITE Knuckle Ride From Portland to Logan Airport Monday En Route To The Tropics

Yes, I *know* that it’s SO annoying to hear that Eric and Alison are traveling to some exotic location to learn about exotic food. Again. That said, most of you have heard that Alison was selected as an artist in the US State Dept. Arts Envoy Program and sent to Doha, Qatar to spend a week teaching painting. THAT will have to be the subject of another possible set of posts by Alison — I’ve seen only the photos she’s been emailing around, and occasional TXTs checking-in. Her trip brought her within an easy flight of India, which triggered my suggestion to finally have a look at The Jewel.

On Thursday Alison will leave Doha on a direct flight to Bengaluru/Bangalore (local/English names which appear here interchangeably (admittedly I’ve stuck to the western friendly areas so far) but I will call it Bangalore from now on) to join me on yet another food adventure. We will spring-board from this new MegaTechCity to the West through Karnataka toward the intersection with Kerala and Tamil Nadu states at the paint drip end of the Indian sub-continent.

I have just arrived after quite an incredible journey (from the perspective of how a modern system of amazing logistics in the era of terrorists targeting travelers operates more or less efficiently) from Boston through London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 Habitrail then on through the night to land in Bangalore where my fun “Welcome To India” story begins…
Continue reading “Taken For A Ride”

Go Jump In A Wake

Here’s a regional pastime on the Maine Coast: summer residents — primarily but not exclusively the younger residents — of the outer islands in Casco Bay will often meet the Ferry at the dock in their bathing suit when it arrives for one of its several daily visits. They will patiently wait for the eager visitors unloading, the sad visitors embarking, and for any pallets of cargo to be landed and removed. Then, after the gangplank has been raised, and the ferry captain has nudged the nose of the ferry away from the dock, he will FULL the engines to scoot toward the next stop while a dock load of thrill seekers jumps into the milky turbulence behind the ship. At low tide this can be over a ten foot jump — some increase their decent by climbing on top of one of the piers.

Cliff Island Ferry Jump

Cliff Island Ferry Jump

Cliff Island Ferry Jump

Cliff Island Ferry Jump
Continue reading “Go Jump In A Wake”

Don’t Take My Word For It

Here’s an excellent overview of the Uighur situation by the NY Times, which concludes that through its heavy handed repression of the Uighur population in Xinjiang, the Chinese government “could unwittingly radicalize a generation of young people, said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher for Human Rights Watch who is based in Hong Kong. ‘The entire Uighur ethnicity feels asphyxiated, having become suspect as sympathetic to extremism,’ he said. ‘Xinjiang is trapped in a vicious circle of increased repression that only leads to more violence.'”

I wonder, however, if the Chinese government’s efforts are the opposite of “unwittingly” because as soon as there is a violent incident that is indisputably linked to a Uighur resistance group, the government will then have “license” to wipe out all but a few token Uighur communities, and their assumption of this HUGE region will be complete, claiming outright their only petroleum reserves and an increasingly crucial trade link to the rest of Asia and Europe.

Turpan Story

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The wirey man in the small room did not sit at a desk, but stood at a small metal stand — perhaps a music stand? – holding paperwork and my and Alison’s passports. He seemed young – smooth faced, long and lean, almost feline – but it’s often difficult for me to estimate age in Han men. He wore an all black uniform along with a black cloth baseball cap that had a short brim and Chinese characters stitched into the front.

“What is your name?”

“Eric Rector?” I replied as a question, obviously nervous.

“What is the purpose of your visit?” He had not yet looked at me, and continued working through the paperwork on his stand whether I replied or not. Perhaps he was filling in the blanks of a Rural Village Visa application, I wasn’t sure.

“I am touring Turpan for pleasure.” I said using the terms available in the list of options on the imagined visa form.

He laughed, which did not make sense because I’m sure he wasn’t reading any irony into this situation. My host family had tried to register our visit to their home with the village police, and the local police wanted nothing to do with us. They insisted that my hosts call the city police and follow their lead. In the village station my host called and was told: bring them to the city headquarters – we want to talk to the visitors. We also want them to check into a hotel in the city; there are not adequate facilities for them in your village.

“What is the purpose of your visit to _____ Village?” he clarified.
Continue reading “Turpan Story”