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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Puttur

Puttur - what a beautiful place. Ravindra had to go to Puttur, being that it's his wife's hometown and his kid was there, and he invited Jodi and myself to tag along for the ride. Plus he wanted to test out the roads, so we made a road trip out of it. Waking up at 6am in Ravindra's apartment, we trudged into the car, and away we went.

The first 250km weren't so bad. Well kept roads, light traffic - we stopped for breakfast and enjoyed the nice weather. Here's the geography. Bangalore is located high up on the Deccan Plateau. Therefore everything is nice and flat as you make your way south to Mysore. Bur travel further West, and before you hit the ocean you hit the Western Ghats. What look like a large mountain range, the Western Ghats are actually a large fault. According to Wikipedia:

"The Western Ghats are not true mountains, but are the faulted edge of the Deccan Plateau. They are believed to have been formed during the break-up of the super continent of Gondwana some 150 million years ago"

But to me, you and everyone who isn't a geographer, they just look like hills and mountains. And BEAUTIFUL hills and mountains at that. Along the drive, as we rose in altitude, we drove through this very scenic section of Karnataka called "Coorg". Coorg is also the coffee capital of India. We stopped once for a rest, and just stepping out of the car you could smell the coffee in the air. Well not literally, but seeing all the plantations, from trees on steep hillsides to open meadows, was a wonderful site.

Coffee trees can grow quite high. Up to 70meters I believe. However, at 70 meters, it might be hard to harvest the berries. Therefore, what coffee growers do is manicure the trees so they don't get much taller than 10 feet high. Easy harvesting. But that doesn't mean all that upward space isn't used effeciently! Side by side with coffee they grow betel nut trees. Enormous, extremely skinny trees that produce betel nuts - an important commodity in India.

Again Wikipedia would like to comment:
" The Areca nut is the seed of the Areca palm (Areca catechu), which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. It is commonly but perhaps erroneously referred to as "Betel Nut." In India (the largest consumer of areca nut) and Pakistan the preparation of nut with or without betel leaf is commonly referred to as paan. It is available practically everywhere and is sold in ready-to-chew pouches called "Pan Masala" or supari, as a mixture of many flavors whose primary base is areca nut crushed into small pieces. Pan Masala with a small quantity of tobacco is called gutka. The easily-discarded small plastic supari or gutka pouches are an ubiquitous pollutant of the South Asian environment. Some of the liquid in the mouth is usually disposed of by spitting, producing bright red spots which are highly visible in the streets. Trails of those red stains lining the sidewalks in India and Sri Lanka are a sure indication of the popularity of betel chewing in an area. The Shimoga District in Karnataka is presently the largest producer of betelnut in India. "

See that, right here in Karnataka.

So we pressed on. The mountains, the air, again all very beautiful. As we kept going up into the hills and mountains, the air continually got cooler and cooler. And houses were actually seperated from each other, giving ample private space to each household. If property wasn't so expensive in such a lush landscape, I would love to live here. Have a house I could go to on the weekends. A small clay house with just a kitchen. What a life....

Finally we arrived in Puttur. I fell asleep for some time in the back of the car and when I awoke we were out of the mountains. We had crossed over the Western Ghats, and were making our way down to the coastal plains. Puttur is located about 50 km from the coast though, so we were about halfway between the plains and the steep hills. But what a beautiful place! Not a city exactly, but not a small town or village either. It's one of those places where there is basically one main road in the town, but on this road you can get all your provisions. Yet it's not SO big that there are people everywhere and it's crowded. It's very quaint and beautiful.

In fact while I was there, Ravindra had to get a filling at the dentist. Not going to my 6-month check up (since I was already in India), I decided to get my teeth cleaned as well. When I sat down in the chair (same chairs as in the states, but the waiting room and two stations were in the same room), the young female dentist put her gloves on and looked in my mouth. She said everything was clean, no stains, and that I don't need a cleaning. Growing up just used to the 6 month check up... I decided to get them cleaned anyways (and it cost me what, a buck fifty?). Well, anticipating a full cleaning, all I got was a water cleaning. That little tool that shoots out a strong stream of water was in between my teeth, all around my mouth, but that's all I got. No flossing, no brushing, nothing else. Whether its helpful or not, it was interesting how a small town dentist in India performs her tasks.

Ravindra's wife's name is Chinoo. Well we stayed at Chinoo's parent's house in Puttur. And what wonderful house. Made from red brick, the house was open, communal and warm. In the center of the house was a big square, with a pillar on each corner. Looking up from the middle of the square, a couple skylights opened up on the roof above me, and a balcony on the second floor looked down upon the square. On one side of the square was a small living room with a tv and couch. Moving clock wise, the house was laid out like this. Living room, next corner was the front door, next side was a pooja room (for prayers and offerings). The next corner was the kitchen. Then the side had a small wash basin and a door leading out to the open air garage/dry room for clothes. On the next corner was Chinoo's parents room. On the side was a small room and stairs leading up stairs. On the last corner was Chinoo and Ravindra's room. And the next side would be the living room again.

You'll see some pictures soon that will hopefully clear up what it looks like.

Now, as for the last part, how we got back home... I'll reserve all the explanations for pictures. Jodi and I took a day train from Puttur to Bangalore. And a day train, going through the mountains - it was glorious. The best thing about Indian trains is that they are very airy and people often stand in the open door ways to get a better view of outside. Just wait till the pictures....

The only thing I'll explain breifly is my experience. I got on the train, extremely tired. Luckily no one was sitting next to me (we were sitting on bench seats, three to a bench), and I was able to lay down and fall asleep for a while. When I fell asleep we hadn't gone into any hills yet, nor could we see any. Then, I awoke with a shake, and looked outside. It was as if I had awoken into a dream... hills and mountains adorned the landscape, the air was cool and refreshing despite the bright sun making an already precious day even more beautiful.

Here are the pictures..... these pictures are of Puttur and the house, in the next post I will put all the beautiful pictures from the train ride.

Ravindra and Chinoo feeding 6-month old Alaru. The three of them are adorable. Where they are sitting is in the "living room" as I explained before. To the right of the picture is the big square, and you can see straight ahead (behind the chair) is the front door to the house.


Ravindra and Alaru!!!! And of course, me at the dentist's office with my wonderful dentist.


1 comment:

  1. Hi Norm,
    The pictures really add to your blog. This was a great one on both levels.
    It sounds like you got what you paid for at the dentist. The good news it sure didn't hurt.
    Our apartment is decorated and we have the tree up.
    It will be interesting to see how they celebrate Xmas in India.
    Lvoe,
    G&G

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