Thursday, 19 February 2015

Videos about Tiruvannamalai and Ramana Maharshi

Pillars in Arunachaleswarar Temple, Tiruvannamalai, India
Author David Godman, a Ramana Maharshi devotee who has resided in Tiruvannamalai, India for 40 years, has recently posted new youtube videos to his site.

If you are interested in traveling to spiritual South India and are curious about the history of the Tiruvannamalai area, including Ramanasramam where the Indian sage Ramana Maharshi resided, you will enjoy these informative videos.

Godman's youtube channel can be found at:

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Bird by Bird

Kingfisher. Photo from
I read a book once about how to be a writer. The book was called Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. In one chapter, Lamott described how, many years ago, her younger brother was frustrated with the enormity of a school project he had to complete on birds. He just couldn't seem to get started on it and kept procrastinating. He asked their father for help and her father said, "Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird." I like that advice. To me it means breaking down a big challenging project into smaller bite size pieces.

My 'bird project' is my work on a book I started over a year ago about my experiences in India. Sometimes it all seems so huge and impossible. Will I ever find the words to make the story come alive to the reader? Much of writing for the public involves taking a risk and putting yourself out there, so to speak. It's easy to get caught up in wondering how good the story will be instead of just writing it down. Lamott also covers this in her book; she calls it writing a 'shitty' first draft. It doesn't have to be perfect, just get something down on paper.

Anyway, as I continue to craft my first manuscript, I need to keep remembering that it won't be perfect the first, second or even the twentieth time around. I need to accept this and start taking each chapter bird by bird.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

What do Tiruvannamalai and Chennai have in common?

Elliot's Beach, Besant Nagar. Photo: Aine Edwards
Having lived in all both locales for at least a few years, the answer is that Tiruvannamalai and Chennai (both located in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu) have tried with varying degrees of success to clean up their local environment for future generations.

Chennai has recently installed public toilets as a pilot project on Elliot's Beach in Besant Nagar, a suburb of Chennai. Although there is some controversy about the location of the toilets, it's still a step in the right direction. Plans are being made to locate additional public toilets in slum areas of Chennai.

A recent article in the Times of India covers this problem of lack of toilets on the public beaches and the best place to locate them:

In Tiruvannamalai, garbage is always a headache after the monthly influx of pilgrims doing pradakshina (in Hinduism and Buddhism, the rite of circumambulating in a clockwise direction and image, relic, shrine, or other scared object) on the monthly full moon; close to a million people flock to the base of Mt. Arunachala each month to circumambulate (walk around) the holy mountain. In their wake, mountains of garbage are left behind.
Pradakshina Road, Tiruvannamalai, South India

Although the town has managed to keep abreast of this monthly event, garbage is still a huge problem on the Pradakshina Road year round. Recently, members of Shanti Malia Ashram have been actively spearheading a cleanup of the Pradakshina Road. Hundreds of tractors full of trash have been collected and water tanks, historically used for bathing, have been cleared of refuse. 

It's heartening to see some progress in caring for the environment in Tamil Nadu. The beaches are so lovely and when I lived in Chennai, my favorite walk in the morning was near my flat on Coastal Road in Kalakshetra Colony. It's nice to see Tiruvannamalai and parts of Chennai raising awareness of the garbage issue.
Trucks hauling away garbage on Pradakshina Road,
Tiruvannamalai, South India.
Tamil Nadu is a state full of exotic scenery, miles of sandy beaches and unusual wildlife. I hope that future generations have the same chance to see it in all its splendor.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Summer in Boulder, CO
The good...summer has come to Boulder, Colorado and our small garden is in bloom. It was a rather long winter here in Colorado with snow storms until mid-May. David dug up a nice patch for a garden just outside our patio and planted flower boxes and hanging baskets with petunias and pansies; it really is a colorful feast for the eyes.

The bad (not so much bad, but it's hard to apart again)...David has gone back to India to tend to his book business, check on our house in Tiruvannamalai and entertain visitors from the US who arrive in a few weeks' time. We had a great time doing 'Bouldery' things like hiking, attending concerts at the Boulder Creek Festival, running the Bolder Boulder (a 10k race) and taking long bike rides.

The ugly...three of our four Indian dogs were killed by either a bigger dog or another ferocious animal one night while David was away. The dead dogs included my two favorites; a sweet dog named Puppy and a new addition that Puppy brought home one night named Puppy's Wife. Both were timid dogs but very trusting once we earned their trust with bowls of rice and yogurt. It is heart breaking to think those dogs are now gone and the only dog left is the stoic old dog named Black Dog, who must be greatly missing his friends.
Day lilly

Again, I feel the tug of wanting to be in two places at once some days, especially when loved ones are far away...even much loved dogs.

Monday, 19 May 2014

How to Live and Work in India

Bharatnatyam dancer. (
Are you looking to chuck it all and run away to a foreign land? Maybe your children have left the nest and you are looking for a new adventure? Have you been itching to resume a life of travel now that you are single again and want to work abroad?

I was in your shoes three years ago. My daughters both went off to out-of-state colleges. I was divorced and what some would consider footloose and fancy-free with no relationship in the works or anywhere on the horizon. I did not own a home; I rented a two bedroom condo. I had over twenty years of work experience in a high tech field, and I knew I had skills that were sought after worldwide. In short, I was ready to chuck it all to live and work in India.

How did I do it? Well, it took time and persistence. I landed one job in India with only a Skype interview. When that job fizzled out after six months, I found another position within the country with an American company with offices in India.

Meenakshi-Sundaresvara Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu (
I have published several posts on my blog site about how I went about this, so I won't go into the details now. But, if you feel the urge to fly and others are telling you that it's impossible to find work in India as a foreigner or why in the world would you leave leave the USA to live in a developing country? Take heart. I did it and now have a life that is based in both countries, India and the USA. It is possible and my life is so much richer for taking the leap.

Here are the links to my previously published blog posts on how to get a job in India: