A few days ago we got news that a leopard had attacked one or our buffalo calves. It's not the first time this happened (last time the cat feasted on a large buffalo in it's pen and then left once it was satiated). This time, though, the forest patrol came and confirmed our suspicions. Plus, because it's their responsibility to maintain the wild animals of the forest (and the non-working electric fence surrounding it), they offered to replace the buffalo for us.
We'll be taking additional precautions, both for our workers and for the animals by installing an electric fence of our own. Apparently, this sort of thing is on the rise in our area. Who knew?
(Image from http://amoghavarsha.com/)
I just can't believe that Noah is already starting school! We were lucky enough to find the Maple Bear Canadian Play School in Calicut. It's fairly small, with only a handful of students - in fact, there are only two other kids that are Noah's age. We liked it immediately, and it was a perfect fit: they were willing to let Noah in on a monthly basis as we figure out how long we will be here.
This past December, Kris and I came to Calicut to work on a building his family owns. Our goal at first was to turn each of the four floors into one or two long term apartments. But after talking to some people and seeing the potential, we've switched gears and are now planning on running it as a guest house.
It turns out we're the perfect partners too. I take care of all the aesthetics while he manages the workers and logistics. His is by far the hardest job.
In the month or so since work started, we've seen some crazy things go down:
- the guys doing the demo work in the bathroom didn't wear safety goggles while working. Kris bought each one a pair after the first day, thinking that maybe they just didn't own any. But even though they diligently brought them to work each morning and took them home at night, we never saw them put them on.
- we had some exterior work done and were shocked at how basic the scaffolding was. When it went up, I thought it was incomplete - it was just a bunch of rods tied together with no flat beams to walk on. Turns out that's all they needed, even on the fourth floor!
- interestingly, they also had safety equipment they refused to wear. For two weeks, we saw them come and go with seemingly brand new harnesses that they never wore.
- no one, I repeat, no one had a level. And yet somehow they managed to create some incredible level and straight lines. I'm still not quite sure how
- one day I walked on on one guy balancing on a ladder while his partner held it upright. No, it wasn't a folding ladder... it was just a basic one with two feet.
We also realized how much more relaxed the pace is here. We'd schedule work to happen, but then someone would realize (the morning of) that they had a wedding to attend. We saw projects that should have taken one or two days drag on for weeks.
All in all though, we're enjoying it. I can't wait to share before and afters!
For the past two years, there's been construction on the road and railway station right outside our land in Tamil Nadu. It's meant that every time Kris had to go check on our buffalo and farm, he would have to walk nearly a kilometer to get there. Finally... we have good news: the road is tarred! It may seem like a little thing, but in India, it's not uncommon for a little bit of construction to interfere with day to day life.
Did you know that there are over 20 banana varieties in Kerala? Some are considered fruits, others vegetables. You eat some right off the tree, and others have to be cooked first. My favorite is called Njalipoovan; a banana so teeny that I can almost make a single bite out of it.
While bananas are used in many wonderful ways, perhaps one of the most famous is Ethakka Appam. It's a sweet, deep fried treat that almost always gets served at tea-time. I asked my mother in law for her recipe:
2 ripe plantains (ethakka)
1 cup of all purpose flour
1 tbsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
a pinch of turmeric
oil to deep fry (she uses coconut oil)
Leaving the skin on, cut the plantain in two. Then cut each half into three slices length-wise
- In a bowl, mix the flour, turmeric, sugar and salt together
- Add water to the dry ingredients until it forms a watery paste (think pancake mix)
- Heat the oil until it is hot enough that batter will float to the top. Once the oil is hot, lower the temperature to medium.
- One at a time, take the peels off the banana slices and dip them in the batter
- Drop the slices in the oil, flipping them over once the bottom side gets golden brown.
- Once they are evenly cooked on each side, take them out and place them on a paper towel to absorb some of the excess oil.
- Serve warm with a cup of tea.