Week 3 – Chilling Around Town

As the work starts piling up for our project, and time is coming short, we decide to take a weekend to stay in town. It’ll be a nice break from the long transits to the nearest cities. from ASSA, the closest town (village really), is Ayukudy, while the nearest biggish town is Tenkasi. Walking to Ayukudy takes about 10 minutes while you can run to Tenkasi, and take a tuktuk back for 100 rupees.

Kids at the school on sit do their morning prayers. An integration educator is working with this school to help kids with physical and mental disabilities integrate smoothly with the kids in the mainstream program
Kids at the school on sit do their morning prayers. An integration educator is working with this school to help kids with physical and mental disabilities integrate smoothly with the kids in the mainstream program
One of the many resident peacocks on site
One of the many resident peacocks on site

Out of necessity, i had to go to Ayukudy to get a haircut this week. No biggie but when there is a language barrier, it can be a real headache trying to explain what you want. The head PT recommended this guy in town who worked in Dubai for a while. He apparently was pretty popular. I brought Clare and our unit’s receptionist and translator with us. He has Cerebral Palsy and is very intellectual. Quite frankly without his help, we would not be able to get half as much work done as we do in the unit. my Haircut was excellent. He did all of his work with scissors and no clippers, all for a staggering 50 rupees (that’s about $1CAD).

Being the nearest town, many of the workers from ASSA go there or live there. We bumped into many of our lunch ladies, and caregivers from our unit. One older gentleman who does caregiving (think of a personal support worker on roids) spotted me outside waiting for my cut and pulled me into the tea shop he was at for a pastry. I tried to resist as I’m told Ayukudy may not be the most hygienic place to eat, but how many times can you say ”no thank you” before it’s just plan rude? I eventually obliged and gosh, it was good to eat deep fried food again. The pasty is called a Wada, and its like a savoury fritter or doughnut of sorts. It’s got onion and chilies in the batter, and whole cumin, giving the whole thing a pungent fragrance. I hope I don’t regret this later!

Taken at the end of my run to Tenkasi. Nothing like a 3 mile run in humid weather to get you going
Taken at the end of my run to Tenkasi. Nothing like a 3 mile run in humid weather to get you going
Bel puri at Chennai Sweets in Tenkasi
Bel puri at Chennai Sweets in Tenkasi

Tenkasi is also pretty fun. We have a bit of a routine where we’ll go to buy fruits and groceries. A few times I ran there for exercise, only to head to the sweet shop to buy the best samosas ever. No regrets baby.One night we took our translator friend to the sweet shop for a light dinner. The place is called Chennai Sweets and they sell all you classic Indian sweets, but also a few snacks like bel puri (a crunchy mix of puffed rice, noodles, carrots, and tomato), veggie croquettes, and some other snacks. Our friend uses a walker and wheelchair to get around, and needs 2 people to hold him up if he’s walking without them. Needless to say 3 foreigners assisting a man with a visible disability drew a few looks. Nothing rude, but still. As a foreigner I draw more attention than I care for on the streets, but I deal with it because it’d novel. I can imagine it being pretty intimidating to draw that kind of attention because of a disability and how that might hinder me from going out as much. But at the time, the last thing you want id to have a society where you don’t see people with disabilities because they do not feel comfortable being in he public eye. I believe it’s a good thing for people like our friend to go out, since it’s one step in a series of many to help normalize disability and break down stigma. Definitely interesting to think about.

On Sunday, we make our way to the biggest attraction in the area, the waterfalls of Courtallam. I read that this is a place where people like to “take a shower”. I thought, interesting, people like to take a dip in the falls. No. People go, line up, and literally bring their shampoo and soap along to bathe. Only in India I suppose. At this point we’re all thirsting for a beer. Or at least I am. Bad. We ask our driver about going to a wine shop. He takes us through some small streets and all I can think of is how we walked through shit and piss in some dark alley in Kanyakummari to buy a few semi cold beers. Luckily, the liquor kiosk is nice and clean, and without a place to sit and drink our beer, we get invited by a neighbour to go to his rooftop to drink our beers. He was only 2 floors up but had a pretty good view of the Western Ghats, a mountain range roughly dividing the states of Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Kerala. I keep thinking, where will our next booze run take us?

The "5 falls" at Courtallam. not shown are the hoardsof people lining up to bathe here
The “5 falls” at Courtallam. not shown are the hoards of people lining up to bathe here
Rooftop view of the Western Ghats from some dude's rooftop by the liquor store. What friendly locals!
Rooftop view of the Western Ghats from some dude’s rooftop by the liquor store. What friendly locals!
rooftop view from the guesthouse
rooftop view from the guesthouse
Sunset on the rooftop
Sunset on the rooftop

I spend a couple of evenings doing light workouts on our rooftop. This is seriously our respite from the heat, and a quiet place where we can dress how we like and not worry about offending anyone.  In afternoons, it’s a great place to tan. Maybe I’ll be like Mowgli by the time I come back to Canada 😀


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