The place where we are at is called Periyamudhaliayarchavadi – a somewhat long name in the style of that famous railway station on a Welsh island. There the resemblance stops for instead of a misty cold climate the temperature here hovers around thirty degrees centigrade during the day and reduces to around twenty at night. Before me is a line of coconut palms and beyond them a sandy beach slopes to the blue waters of the bay of bengal. Occasionally a high-prowed fishing boat traverses the placid ocean and sometimes a hooded crow swoops under the roof of the veranda in which I am writing this sitting on a wicker chair. Apart from the vociferous crows all is tranquil in this mid afternoon in Tamilnadu, India.
We have just been for a swim and the only thing to remind us that we have escaped from a cold and wet Tuscan winter is my puffy jacket hung in our room which I had to wear to transport me to the airport in the UK.
The south of India, the Dravidian south, conserves better than any other area of this vast subcontinent the millennial elements of Hindu culture. The Tamil language itself predates the Sanskrit derived tongues of northern india. Here the second language is English and not many people speak Hindi. Above all, southern India is temple land. With the most spectacular religious complexes in the whole country, it is a Hindu equivalent of the great gothic cathedrals of northern France. Although we’ve come here principally to embrace tropical warmth we fully intend to do a temple tour.
South India is also famous for its exquisite cuisine and we have already been gorging ourselves on dosa, pappaya and uttappam.
Our place is a sweet chalet style guest house right next to the beach. It’s run by an italian couple, Donata and Stefano, and is called Samarpan which means devotion in Sanskrit.
It was chosen for us by an amazingly welcomed coincidence. People may say what they like about facebook but it reunited me with a long lost cousin after a very very long time. That was at the end of last year. Realizing that after a mild and sunny January in longoio it would be rain’s pay back time in February I decided to accept my cousin’s invitation to visit her and in one day about two weeks ago i organized plane tickets and visa.
The best holidays are in winter I feel. Why suffer the miseries of the vagaries of European weather ?
My cousin has been living in India for over twenty years in the Auroville community where she is in charge of the accessibility project. It’s great to have someone to reintroduce us to this fascinating part of the world. Already we have visited the old French settlement of Pondicherry and this morning we were admitted to the mystic globe of the Matri Mandir. But that would need another post to describe and already the soft exotic breezes beckon us to the langurous waters at our feet.