Friday, 30 November 2012

To Market In Ooty

While parts of Ooty may have an Anglo feel, one of its markets definitely still has all the trimmings of India. Outside the botanical garden things were bustling. Clothes to buy, puddles to jump, a carrot to procure.

Our favorite vendor, the macho plush toy man.

It's misty and muddy up on the hill, but the shopping must go on. The carrot lady.

Woman selling some sort of flowers. The grilled corn cart with hungry goat hanging around.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Getting Clubby In Ooty

Besides churches and botanical gardens, those Brits had to build lots of clubby hotels and gathering places to hang out. It's a regular Cotswolds contrivance up in Ooty.

The front of one of the country club in Coonoor, a neighboring town. Right out of a small English village.

Bully, you must be a member to enter. An Olde English looking front sitting room.

Had enough of bridge? Time for a drink at the Deco bar and them some steak and kidney pie in the paneled dining room.

After your 2:30 pm dinner, head to the outside porch for a cigar and digestive. Bully!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

St Stephen's Church, Ooty

When the Brits settled into Ooty, they established all the fine trappings of home. What's a community without an imposing church and creepy graveyard out back? The foundation was laid in 1829 with opening communion coinciding with Easter in 1831.

The big boy, at the rise of a hill.

Yep, all the signs of a classic church. Hardwood pews, stained glass windows.

Head behind the church and the hill continues, now the moody graveyard. Exhibit A.

Another look at the well worn graves.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Heading For The Hills To Ooty

When the British showed up in India, they came for the commerce and wilted in the heat. The summers scorched the pasty English and they were desperate to find a way to get through monsoons and triple digit temps. Time to head for the hills.

Anywhere there's a mountain range in India, you're bound to find a cluster of hill stations. Mostly built by the British during their years of occupation, hill stations are mountain-top enclaves, a place to escape the summer heat. Since the Brits built them, the architecture reflects their fantasy of re-creating ye olde country England in India. A little squinting and photo framing goes a long way.

Here's a bed and breakfast in Ooty. Seriously, Ooty, India, not Ooty, Devon.

The stately lawn and twee living room.

Madam Sarah. Parts of Ooty are like a little English country town. A textile collective.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Rabbit Reduction

We don't go looking for rabbits - we promise. But you wander the streets and the rabbits just appear. What can you do? Photograph them!

OMG, so cute, a mini-me rabbit! Presenting one for the kiddies:

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Around Town In Chennai

While wandering the streets in search of shots for the holiday devoted to Ganesh, James snapped a handful of pics of everyday life. The results:

Fisherman on Marina Beach, untangling the nets for the day.

People patiently waiting to receive a pooja prayer.

A happy little girl, playing between a couple of buildings.

Prepping coconuts for pooja. The covering for someone's stuff on the beach.

Remnants of a couple of gifts to Ganesh, washed back onshore.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Raj Of The Road

India has a few actual highways and is busy building many kilometers more. Sometimes the roads are bliss; well constructed, not crowded, efficient. But you can be driving along and then suddenly run out of highway and all that traffic gets funneled down to one lane through a tiny country town. Such is life for an expanding country in a poor nation.

A typical scene by the side of a highway, trucks pulled over for rest. The super long truck in the foreground is one of many, many haulers used by auto plants. The H on the side is for Hyundai.

A toll plaza bathroom. Kind of a rare sight, an actual public bathroom for use along a road. So James had to take a picture. A driver, coming out for a stretch.

Inside a truck cab. A far cry from a fancy Freightliner. Big trucks will also have lots of custom paint - frequently scenes that leave you smiling. Here's a little stencil of a momma cow lovingly licking her nursing calf. Stenciled right on the side of a massive truck.

Accidents, a way of life (death) on roads in India. Here's a common scene on a windy road leading up to a hill station - a hit motorcyclist. Can't see him? Follow all the blood in the center of the photograph.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Weekend Battle Of The FSO Sexes

Sometimes, being in the Foreign Service feels a little like high school or sleep-away camp. Besides working closely together, we also live and play together. Sure, there are more than a billion people to meet here in India, but often activities are planned for consulate folks to get to know one another and experience things together. It's like our own little Groupon deal, one step up from potato sack races.

Recently, a ladies only weekend away was held in a quaint place called Pondicherry. Some female bonding, a chance to leave behind the kids for a night, drink some wine, kick back and relax. And pillow fights, lots and lots and lots of pillow fights.

Really? Puhleez. The guys have heard the sales pitch and have imagined the sorority shenanigans, but let's get down to reality: the weekend was ALL ABOUT THE SHOPPING.

Let's observe Femina Acquireous in her natural habitat as she starts her hunt. One specimen is kind enough to stop for a picture. Meanwhile, the one behind her takes advantage of the opening: "Go low for the kill!"

You can't (hunt) shop on an empty stomach, so what to do? Order (maraud) lunch. "We've come for your brie sandwiches! We will not be denied! And can we get some baguettes to go?"

So, what do the guys who are left behind do? Smoke 'em, because they got 'em. Let the ladies shop; let the men light up. Oh, and pretend to keep an eye on all the kids.  "Right guys? Uhm, who's watching that little one waay in the background?" Puff, puff.

The stogie master, showing how to puff proper. Proof of Man at leisure: empty glasses and a full ashtray.

Fun was had/acquired/ingested by all and marriages remained intact because of, not in spite of, the Battle Of The FSO Sexes. Stay tuned for more events.....

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Giving Thanks At Thanksgiving

We celebrate Thanksgiving overseas with the typical meal, but we also take time to help out the less fortunate. Like last year, the Consulate chose to celebrate Thanksgiving with a group of orphaned children at a Chennai church.

A group of us served up a traditional Indian breakfast to about 60 kids and some activities, including face paining and pin the tail on the donkey. The kids got a little explanation of the history of Thanksgiving, too. They were all smiles.

"We're getting games and breakfast and treats?!  I'm ready!"

Face painting commences. The fun results.
"Hey, once the girls get all made up, we want in on the action." Boys lined up to get their "tats."

"Sure, you can pin the blindfolded Foreign Service Officer, we can play that game." says Sarah. Someone is definitely going to get wet - it's time for a round of water balloon toss.

And now time for the victory breakfast. The little ladies go first. The boys chomping down.

The real victory - winning chocolate bars and then eating them!