Saturday, June 25, 2005

Hot and Sticky (Aliyah)

It’s hot and sticky here and I often feel too tired to write, but I need to get something new out. Maybe I should become nocturnal, but I’m not much of a night owl and I like the weather until about eight in the morning and after six in the evening. I want to be a swallow, catching insects in the morning and evening, or, failing that, a bat. Jodi had to go to the hospital yesterday for some sort of heart trouble. I don’t know how serious it is and I haven’t heard any more recent news. Another worker, Lila, is here, who remembers David very well, saying that he sponsored her (David’s comment: I supported her work with Amma many years ago, when LAFTI was just getting off the ground). I have never met her before, to my knowledge. She says that she has just come from “the police.” I don’t know whether this means she has come from jail, or from court, or somewhere else, but she mentions something about a warrant and prawn farms. I’ll have to ask Krishnammal to explain.

On Tuesday, two men arrived from somewhere. I don’t know where they came from, and they disappeared after lunch. Krishnammal took them off to visit the house-building sites and I went, too. She has a new, slightly larger plan for some of the houses. After we visited a few villages, we went somewhere I had never been before. We drove across a wide, salt-encrusted plain, the vegetation growing less and less until it was finally completely lifeless. There, bulldozers were throwing up a tall, wide berm out of the grayish, blackened, sandy soil. Krishnammal explained it to me.

LAFTI had distributed this land to a nearby village in the 1980s. Fifteen years ago, due to climate change and later to prawn farming, the saltwater tidal river started flooding it at every monsoon. They are building this wall to keep the salt water out before the monsoon starts. It will take years, but eventually (at least in theory) the rains will wash the salt from the soil and make it cultivable again. The people had asked the government to help, but the government programs are food-for-work, and this job cannot be done this without machine labor, especially if they want to have it done before the rains. I don’t know when these rains are coming, but I hope it’s soon.

We’ve had various guests coming in and out, most of whom I have never meet. There was a former president of Gandhigram Rural University on Tuesday, who asked me about my studies. There is a girl from Valivalam hostel here now, named Saraswati, who is being given new clothes, which her family certainly cannot afford, as they didn’t even have a bit of land for a hut, and had to attach a shelter to their neighbor’s home. There are various men who I assume come from different projects to meet, who never stay long.
Some of these people I may already know, but, as I said, I have a terrible memory for faces.

More later,



Blogger Obstructing Reality said...

Aliyah -

I'm off to camp today, to hang out with crunchy Yids...I'm going to miss this blog like crazy, so write a lot so I have something to look forward to on my day off!! All my love and strength to you and LAFTI, in the hopes that Amma builds a million houses this summer!


6:26 AM, June 28, 2005  

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