Sunday, 26 October 2008


It is Diwali season here and tomorrow is a national holiday, but there are lots of celebrations going on today. Apparently it has to be celebrated with explosions and right now, at 6 in the evening, there are bombs exploding all around my house! There have been bangs going on all day but they were tame compared with these monsters! If there are any crows in the area they surely must be deaf!

There have been several occasions in the last few days when palm leaves have crashed to the ground from the trees as I've walked past. They are not small things, being about two to three metres long, and hit the ground with quite a thump. But worse are the coconuts. Falling from 10 to 20 metres, they would surely kill you if you were unlucky enough to be underneath. Fortunately, where there is some public liability, along roads for instance, the trees seem to be maintained - old branches removed and coconuts harvested. Mind you, near here I have seen the odd kernel lying at the roadside which must have come from somewhere!

The mattress arrived today! Sunday!! It was here when I got home after a walk - the family had taken delivery of it and were intrigued. I felt embarrassed telling them the price - 10,500Rs or £131, for a coil sprung mattress. A figure I doubt they could conceive of paying for a bit of bedding - after all, they'd make do with cloth-covered 75mm thick foam. And if not that, then at most a coir and foam construction costing 5,000Rs or so. It arrived covered in sacking which had been roughly hand-sewn together to enclose it - just as my father did with sacks of wool on the farm when I was a kid, only the string this time appeared to be hand-made. After taking that off (the grandmother whisked it away for personal recycling) the plastic wrapping was then taken off and that disappeared with equal speed. Then there was a band of printed silver film, which the mother promptly rolled up but which the little girl grabbed and used as a trumpet! Finally, the mattress itself - 48"x75"x6" from Springwel. It fitted the "cot" perfectly! Firm too, and came with an "all season" fleece blanket which looks a little thick for this climate. At most, a cotton sheet is all that I find I need. The family lent me a nylon sheet for the last week, and it wasn't the nicest experience I've had in bed! Sheets here are mostly patterned. In fact the shop I bought my sheet in had no plain ones at all and gave me an odd look for asking for one. I bought a sheet and two pillow cases for 530Rs (£6.20 - relatively expensive).

The children next door have got a cap gun, as many kids in the area seem to have. I certainly spotted a few at SISP's school. The gun cost 12Rs and a roll of caps 5 paise. The lad appears to have spent this week's allowance (20Rs) on the gun and caps, and will buy more tomorrow. He spent the evening firing at all and sundry, and shared generously with his sister. In fact they are really nice together - he looks after her - carrying her school bag to the rickshaw without prompting, for instance. It's lovely to see. I shared some of my misspent youth with them - showing them how to fire missed caps on old cap tape with a penknife, or simply by setting light to it. I wouldn't be surprised if caps were banned in the UK these days.

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