Until now, I’ve posted only the pretty pictures. But now the truth: sometimes, this is what it looks like.
Fires everywhere! In summer the villagers set fire to the brush, maybe to get rid of weeds, maybe to create fire breaks, get rid of the stubble in the fields, improve the soil fertility, and so on. But it’s scary when there’s no one monitoring it and you see it advancing towards you.
Our well is dry, already in January. Yes, I know it doesn’t look like a well, but it is all of 10 ft deep and it usually has water until peak summer. We made a conscious decision not to line it with stone so that any animal that falls in can also climb out. Our pond of course dried up first.
And this is the other thing we are up against:
For the last five years we have been waging a battle to save this hill. It’s a subtle and polite battle because a) it was their hill before we came, they have always used this stone to build foundations for their houses, and who are we to interfere; and b) being new people in an isolated situation, we are pretty vulnerable and can’t afford to make enemies of our neighbours. So our policy has been to act or speak out only when we think it is being done for commercial gain, and not by an individual scrounging for a little free building material. We keep asking the administration to protect the hill, which results in some half-hearted, temporary measures. We have also spoken to several of the villagers whom we know or suspect of being involved in the quarrying. Incidentally, the hill has five dolmens on it, which makes it a protected site. Its hoary past is indicated by its name: Pandavar Malai. (Of which, more in my next post.) Not to mention that it is in the eco-sensitive margins of the Cauvery North Wildlife Sanctuary, where quarrying is prohibited. We hope to be able to do more to protect the hill when we move to our farm later this year.
So no, it’s not always pretty, but it is always beautiful.