Friday, 1 March 2013

A Walk in Rural India

Tending his herd
Summer is slowly arriving in South India; the sun feels hotter and I wear my floppy wide-brimmed hat whenever I go outside during the day. By the end of the month we will be in full-fledged summer mode, and it will be too hot to walk in the midday sun (at least for me).

On Thursday, I walked back to our house after shopping at several stores near Ramanasramam. It's about a 45 minute walk if one takes a path south of town. It was noon so the sun was high in  the sky and there wasn't a cloud to be seen. There used to be a short cut through the local college campus but that is closed now, so I followed a path I am not familiar with and got a bit lost. I knew I just had to keep Mt. Arunachala behind me and head for some electrical poles in the distance; I wasn't very worried about being off the main path. 

I recommend getting lost in rural India because you meet a lot of friendly people asking where you are going. I cut through one field full of Nubian goats; they looked surprised to see me tromping through their grazing land. An elderly man tending the goats must have seen me coming in the distance and wondered what this foreign woman with the floppy hat and sunglasses was doing carry two bags of groceries through his field in the midday sun. "Where are you going?" he asked in Tamil. I pointed off in the distance since I still don't know the word for 'home' in Tamil. He smiled and nodded his head (Indian head nod) as I wandered off in the direction of our house, still another 30 minutes away.

By the time I got home, I had met at least a dozen other friendly people working in their fields, tending cows and goats or working on the government road project near our house. I wish I knew more Tamil because I really wanted to explain where I was going with my bags of groceries so that is a priority this month, learning rudimentary Tamil. 

I was feeling very overheated by the time I got home, so it might be my last walk in the midday sun until after summer has ended. I have much respect for the workers here who labor in the hot sun for eight or more hours per day for very low wages. I was bushed after just a 45 minute walk in the heat ...