This may be the last of Fr. Tom Cassidy’s blog posts for awhile. He is moving from a regular internet connection in Kumbalanghy, India, to a less predictable one in Eluru. The former provincial superior will be with the formation program in Eluru through the end of February.
Today is my last day in Kumbalanghy. I’ll have to get up at 3:00 a.m. to be packed and ready to go to the airport when the taxi arrives at 4:00 a.m. Fr. Thomas and I will be traveling to Andhra Pradesh and as I understand it we will be taking a “puddle jumper,” which means we’ll depart Cochin at around 7:00 a.m. and arrive at our final destination around 1:00 p.m. I think there are three or four stops along the way — shades of the old North Central Airline flying Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Dakotas. I thought I would be going to the novitiate as tomorrow is the dedication of the new church the U.S. Province helped build through our financial contributions to the project. Fr. Thomas told me at dinner this noon that I would be met and driven to Eluru (my final destination for my stay in India) and that on Sunday we (meaning a number of SCJs) would drive to Guntur for the dedication.
One of the things I forgot to bring with me was a hat so until yesterday I was doing my walks on the roof since it is covered and keeps the sun out. While in Cochin I managed to pick up a baseball cap not in the style I would prefer but it does the job. With hat on my head yesterday and today I walked the road that passes in front of our house.
There wasn’t much traffic when I took this photo but during much of the day there is a steady stream of traffic, and since all the busses end their route just beyond our property there is a steady stream of bus traffic in both directions. Perhaps next would be the number of motorcycles, followed by cars and then trucks and a cyclist or two (especially young kids). If my memory is not playing tricks on me there is a lot less traffic in this local area compared to Andhra Pradesh and it seems to flow better as well. Finally, remember due to India being under British influence for so long traffic drives on the left, just opposite of what we do in the States.
When we speak of a small rural town we think of a Main Street with a number of side streets jutting off to residential and perhaps some other commercial properties. In Kumbalanghy, as I suspect in much of rural India, Main Street is the only street and most buildings — either small shops or homes — are built right along the roadway. Instead of side streets you’ll find a path or two that leads to homes built off road. Obviously if you have a car you’ll need to be on the main road while a motor bike can easily maneuver most side paths.
A few minutes’ walk toward the parish of St. George I spotted this construction site. It would be typical of what you’ll see in much of India outside the large cities. Most structures are made of steel and concrete. You’ll note the extensive supports holding up the roof above the second story. Note too the cement is mixed on site and though the photo only hints at it much of the work is labor intensive. With a population of over a billion people labor is not in short supply.
All the homes I spotted along the road were made of cement with tile roofs. Some of the homes were large and quite attractive. As is the case all over the globe Mother Nature is construction’s worst enemy. Here the two elements that can wreck havoc are sun and rain. The sun tends to wash out colors over time and the raining season can be torrential. Even one drop of water constantly dripping in one spot can over time carve stone. Just think of our own Grand Canyon that water carved out of rock ions ago.
I suspect home interiors are not all that different from what we have in our seminary here in Kumbalanghy. High ceilings to help dissipate the heat and tile or marble floors which also help cool the building. I’m sure in wealthier homes one would find area rugs to accent the flooring. I am grateful our house has screens as insects, especially mosquitoes, are a problem. They have not, thankfully, been a great bother so far, especially in my room with the ceiling fan creating a good breeze. I read somewhere that mosquitoes can’t fly in any kind of wind to speak of. I suspect that’s why they seem most pesky at down and dusk when winds tend to be their calmest.