Montag, 25. Oktober 2010


Timbaktu is a 3-hour drive from Bangalore. Early Sunday morning we are sitting in a cab together with Prof. Sastry. Today we want to visit the small village in Andhra Pradesh that lives from the cultivation of groundnuts. It is a big day for the farmers, because they will inaugurate their first production building. Facing difficulties to make enough money for survival they have organized in form of a co-operative and together invested in the new building. Here they want to sort the groundnuts according to quality and later on  also further process them.

It is a success story. The non-governmental organization (NGO), which our professor has founded, has provided the farmers with a loan for the building. The farmers themselves had accumulated enough savings in order to buy the necessary land. If everything goes according to plan, the investment will pay off within two to three years and thereafter the farmers will enjoy greater income. With greater income will come higher security, less vulnerability to droughts or illness and better living conditions. If this project will turn out to be a success, the concept might be a role model for the fight against poverty in all of India.

The farmers have gathered to celebrate this important day that promises to improve life in Timbaktu and the surrounding villages. The village head enters accompanied by a priest. They have brought flowers and candles with which the machines are blessed. The priest walks around and mumbles verses in Sanskrit, the Latin of India. We then sit down in a circle and the project is discussed. Unfortunately the farmers talk in Telugu, so I can´t understand what is being talked of. But apparently there is much to discuss, the meeting lasts for almost two hours. As I get to know later, the details of the project were discussed. Which farmers are involved, how to deal with the limited availability of electricity, under what conditions to rent the facility to other farmers and how many sacks of groundnuts to process daily. With a round of tea and cookies the meeting is declared as closed. The farmers are in agreement and seem to be excited about the months and years to come.
It is experiences like this that I have come to India for.

Dienstag, 12. Oktober 2010

Munnar Tea

Munnar is a small city at the heights of 2.400 meters in the Sahyadri Mountain range of Kerala. When our bus drives up the serpentines we are stunned by the color of this place. Green hills as far as we can see, tea plantations everywhere.
Year around the tea is harvested by women which scramble up the hills and collect the leaves in bags. Their harvest is then weighed on the raodside and driven to the nearby tea factory where the leaves are oxidated and dried. Looking at the picture to the left, who would have thought that harvesting tea is such a strenuous process? 
The city itself is bustling with life. Even though it is a small place also here rikshaws are omnipresent and give Munnar the hectic touch that is typical for Indian urban areas.
Next time I boil water for a tea I will certainly think of this place.

Freitag, 8. Oktober 2010

Peaceful Kerala

Gliding through the endless channels of backwaters in Kerala, Southern India, one cannot but wonder how much closer it could get to paradise. Over the full length of 900km umpteen rivers wriggle through dense palm tree jungles. The  quiet scenery conveys an incredible atmosphere of peacefulness and yet at the same time the watersides are filled with life.  

Locals take baths, wash their clothes, go fishing or collect coconuts. They have built their houses right next to the water, inbetween the palm trees, have opened up little shops or ayurvedic centers for the tourists passing by on their boats. All this is ten hours away from Bangalore, and yet a completely different world.

Discover the most fascinating waterworld on earth.
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