I have family in Andhra Pradesh (AP), which is in the heart of South India. Last month, I took a trip to Puttaparthi, a small village in AP, which once was the home of the revered guru, Sathya Sai Baba. I have been to many parts of the South and have frequently been to Puttaparthi. However, this time I had my “smart phone” and had the privilege of capturing some beautiful sights and scenes of my experience in the village.
Getting to Puttaparthi is not a straightforward process. The most convenient way is to land in Bengaluru (Bangalore), preferably by air, and then hire a taxi and driver to take you on a 3 hour drive through the desert of AP and into the little village that is frequented by a gazillion people a year. On the way to Puttaparthi, I was able to capture some images of the sky at dusk; the evening sky bathed in the warm, soothing colors of the sun:
The South is a different country on its own. That’s what I love about India – her culture and people are so distinct in every region of the country. In the South, my observation has been that people will prefer to speak English anytime over Hindi. For the Southerners, Hindi is the language of the North. As far as I know, Hindi has never been accepted as the national language by the South because it is a widely spoken language in the North. Long story, so won’t get into it.
One of the things I love doing when I am in Puttaparthi is to visit the Karuna Farm Sanctuary, an animal shelter and rescue operation that has been functioning and growing since 2000. I urge you to visit their heart warming and informative website: http://www.karunasociety.org/ Karuna also has an organic farm where the produce is sold in their shop and the proceeds go toward the care of the animals and the maintenance of the farms. My eyes popped when I visited the farm this time because it has blossomed into a haven for vegetable lovers, and sells produce that I would never have expected to see in a desert: Arugula (just love this salad leaf), lettuce, butternut squash (I took 1/2 kg back to Mumbai!), cherry tomatoes, basil, dil, parsley, as well as your usual suspects, such as bananas, carrots, papaya, green onions and radish.
At Karuna, it was also endearing to see how so many working animals and animals meant for slaughter were rescued and given refuge in a stable created especially for them. It was a vision to watch the herd of buffaloes get rounded in to the stable after their afternoon stroll in the fields. These giant beauties are a sight to behold, especially knowing that they were once destined for slaughter and are now in “buffalo haven or heaven.”
The highlight of my trip was my the entertainment provided by the monkeys. For a desert, this village was an oasis for the monkeys that lived and moved in hoards, hanging out and playing with their babies. The house I lived in was on the 3rd floor of the building overlooking the mountains and fields. One afternoon, I made my acquaintance with 3 monkeys that decided to pay the hostess and her dogs a visit. It was an amusing sight! I watched for a good 30 minutes how the dogs were so focused on the monkeys. The monkeys merrily perched themselves on the balcony of the living room, with only the window and grills shielding them from the dogs, and kept looking at the dogs with amusement. They were probably thinking, “You fools, you can bark all you want because you know you will not be able to sink your teeth into us.” Every where the monkeys moved, the dogs moved in tandem with them. It was like the monkeys and the dogs were reflections of each other.
All in all, it was a pretty entertaining and informative trip; a good break from Mumbai, although it was nice to be back in Mumbai after a week of being in the South. I chanced upon this little shack which is the humble abode of the watchman who is taking care of some unused land. It seems quite cozy:
A final souvenir of the southern sky….makes me wanna go there again; indulge in the peace and quite of the desert: