Terry's Indian Blogs

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Early in 2006 Anita Alberts got some contract work in Trivandrum teaching English as a foreign language. Terry decided to go with her for the experience and hoped to be able to help locals in some way with his mechanical expertise. He also decided to keep a blog of his experiences and these are published below

On the Sat 9th of May 1981 in the Swan Hotel Bolton we watched a Tottenham Hotspur  beat a Manchester City in the FA cup (FA Cup, more popular then) then  we  got married.  Meanwhile 25 years later, celebrating our silver wedding anniversary watching,  live in India , the FA Cup (FA Cup getting popular again). West Ham got beat (only just) by Liverpool a good silver wedding link for us.  Thanks Liverpool.

Trying my best to keep fit during my retirement by surfing and swimming. Going  Kovalem   with some friends from Anita’s work. Good fun/exercise but weight loss slow progress.

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 The phenomenal economic growth in Kerala is causing great change in the landscape of Trivandrum this is repeated in all the  other great Indian cities.. The skyline has changed in the five months we have been here. Skyscrapers are popping all around our apartment.

Many are bold Toy Town  type architectural statements(fig 2) attempting  to capture the Keralan style (Fig 5). These luxury apartments reflect the increasing affluence created by the growth in hi-tech businesses in Trivandrum. Most of the business imported  from large American and European corporations . The three shown below are local to our flat in Kowdiar. Many people are buying these as an edge to the boom in property rises and renting them out.

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 Below is the rear of the new flats being built next door to us. This being the poshest part of Trivandrum the Style and Quality of Build is top draw. Having said that a flat in this building would only knock you back about 40K. That may double in the next year or so. Notice the painter putting the finishing touch to the external concrete rendering.

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At least he has a “Safety harness”

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 The view from the top of the new  apartments gives a previously unseen view   of the King’s Kowdiar  Palace , off  limits to the public.

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On the top floor of our apartment block is another interesting expansion of housing development . A swarm of bees wants a bijou des res near the extensive and well kept garden of the Kings Palace. A good supply of flowers and a most sought after post code. They took up residence outside the penthouse living room window last year. The hive is now about 4 foot long and covered with bees.  I took a bit of a risk taking this photo through the open window, I asked a friend to drag me in and shut the window quick  if the bees got angry at having their photo taken. (Lack of picture sharpness due to a cowardly shaking  hand on  camera)  I bought some local honey from these type of wild hives and it was delicious. The locals shimmy up the trees and harvest the wild honey.

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 You may notice the sky is now getting cloudy over the Palace . The monsoon is only a week away. Luckily we will be back in Bolton soon where it never rains.

 On the other side of all this expanding wealth in Keralar is the sharper contrast between wealth and poverty.

 Not the worst in India but still a disturbing experience. We visited several charities last week that some of Anita’s colleagues  at work are involved in supporting , It was interesting to get some  insight as to   how local charities organize their  activities in a country of such  contrast  between  wealth and poverty   Interestingly, while we were waiting to meet our contacts outside the Children’s Orphanage  two young lads were ironing clothes on a two barrows . They had a huge pile of clothing on the pavement at the side of them. I was intrigued by the tools of their trade, this ingenious antique  of crafted brass was about 2 kilo in weight and heated by barbeque type charcoal .  Must be the most eco friendly iron I’ve ever seen. (Depends where the charcoal comes from though) He happily gave me a demonstration of his trade. His skill puts to shame, my recent (and reluctantly) acquired ironing skills (downside of   retirement)

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This orphanage below is run by volunteer group called Severbharati and subscriptions which pay for the rented house.  They also and provide food for the kids .There is no state help.

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 There are about 18 kids looked after here, fed and provided with rudimentary education. To see the orphaned kids and spend some time with them is really a heart rending experience.  This picture is replicated in the many hostels and orphanages across India which all rely on the good will offerings of others.

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 The same group of volunteers run a food program for the poor. Food is prepared every day and distributed at the local Medical College Hospital car park. The program feeds about 2000 people a day, again to see this commitment is moving. One of the young volunteers said to me “ We all do well in our jobs, we feel a strong need to give something back  to the less fortunate among us” Most of the people in the food queue are visiting their loved ones in hospital and will take the food onto the wards for the patients.

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Incidentally the food was delicious, containing  herbs, peppers, spices and the rice, which  was soft and savory.

 

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 This is a credit to the generosity of the people we met. Many of them , full time professionals, doctors, teachers, lawyers etc,  giving up much of their spare time.  

They have recently rented a large house near this hospital to provide a hostel for people traveling from all over Kerala for cancer treatment. Otherwise the out patients would have to sleep rough while having therapy. This is an invaluable life line for many poor Keralans.  

This same group will provide Anita’s company’s Village Lighting Team  with links to the people in most in need of a help. The Village Lighting  project sponsored by the CEO . He is committed  to put some  of his company profits back into India This project is to provide solar powered lighting for villagers children studying in homes without electricity. This will   help their children  to read at night without the use of kerosene lamps.  Education is an absolute priority amongst even the poorest of Keralans. The state has a literacy of 98%. The  Lighting Team  have piloted the use of this technology at  a local villagers house  (fig 14) outside Trivandrum . The battery is charged up by placing solar cell and lamp in direct sunlight (fig 15). The lamp will then give off light through a High Intensity Cluster LED for about 8 hours.

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 Below is another view of the same village dwelling, note livestock and water well in background near the Royal Enfield bike

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You can not be unaffected by the generosity of these volunteers, wanting to help the less fortunate. Their commitment is a testimony to what’s good in the people around, you if you care to look. It has been our privilege to meet such decent people.

 Terry and Anita