There was another fire here last week, this one much bigger than the last. Three firetrucks couldn’t prevent the damage to at least 4 acres. We lost a whole grove of cajurina trees, an amla tree, and some plumeria. After the fire was out, a swarm of Tamilian firefighters overtook the veranda, demanding water and the fan and walking off with a blooming elephant foot, their huge red trucks knocking into the palms on the side of the house. In India you have to pay for the firefighters to come, even though they are run by the government.
It is May, the height of summer in Pondy. I have tried to ignore the ubiquitous complaints from colleagues about the heat, (after all it is India, what do you expect?) But now I give in. I am sitting on my bed up in the machan under my mosquito net, sweating and begging for the breeze to blow. It’s the humidity that gets to you, like you’re underwater, always wet and struggling to breathe. Baburam says when the air is still like this it means it will rain, plus today he saw a certain snake that indicates rain. Here’s hoping. With this heat I have an unsaatioable desire for sour things, lime and tamarind and raw mango with a pinch of salt. I have been learning firsthand the myriad of ways to eat rice, papaya, and coconut. There are a lot. Today for dinner I ate coconut jaggery dosa with ripe papaya and sprout salad with some jackfruit for dessert.
When the power comes on in the evening, I water my garden. After I have fought with the hose pipe’s rubbery tangles I move slowly down the length of the garden, the tender leaves trembling with pleasure as they receive their daily shower. It’s good to check in with the pumkin, colocassia root and elephant feet which are really growing now, along with some cow pea, okra, jicama, yam, ridge gourd and bitter gourd. Today I planted the deep rooted Vertivere grass along the roadside fence, which prevents soil erosion and will purify the toxins that come from the main road. We just harvested some Vertivere grass roots to make into cooling juice. Today I also installed a trellis for the jicama in the mandal of the garden. I always keep the soil covered with dry leaf mulch to retain the soil’s mostiure and to prevent weeds from growing. I’m sprouting some of my favorite vegetable, two varieties of eggplant. Tbere’s always something to do.
Painting the house is fnally finished, yay. Today I painted the farm’s name on the front side of the house. It turned out exactly like I wanted, natural yet professional.
I only have about 3 weeks left in Pondicherry before I head for Southern France to volunteer on some organic farms with my sister Brett for 3 months. Brett and I have a bee farm, a cheese farm and a ‘musical farm’ lined up before the September Rousseau Reunion. It should be a blast. I am especially looking forward to blogging sur nos aventures. I have decided that in October I will come back to Pondy for another year. I feel that my true work of building infrastructure at Matrikunj is just getting started.
Banyan shading one of the lily ponds