Sally Mair - Loving life

By Sallymair

Day 23 Respect

My travel from Chennai all went well today and all at a civilised hour. I had time to get up, have a leisurely breakfast and head for the airport for my 1.15pm flight. The plane was a small twin propellered one, but it still managed to land 15 minutes early on a flight due to last 1 hour 20 minutes. My taxi from Siva cars was waiting to take me the 40km to Tirunelveli and by 3.15 I was back home.
I decided I needed to stretch my legs so grabbed my flask and set off for the tea stand. On the way I came to the poster above and was deafened by loud music coming from two speakers set up either side. I recognised the woman in the picture as Jayaram Jayalalithaa. The former chief minister of this state of Tamil Nadu who died in 2016.
I carried on to get my tea and on the way back checked with the stall holder on the corner who confirmed this. He said that today was her birthday so they were honouring her. I find it quite extraordinary how people here hold others in high esteem and praise them as well as mark notable dates. I cannot think of anybody in Britain who would be honoured in such a way and with sincerity or who would do it.
One of the things that struck me about this tribute was that it was clearly hand made. There are lots of professional poster producers and bill board painters around, but this one had clearly been hand made by the people who set it up. I came across several other similar tributes as I walked this evening.
In India if you do something noteworthy then people acknowledge it and honour the person concerned in a way that simply does not happen at home. There are times when it seems OTT, but even to a much lesser degree, it does show respect and appreciation which is no longer visible at home.
Mind you I can happily live without the loudspeakers which are set up here at the drop of a hat and blare out music and speeches at a deafening level and go on for hours, music isn't so bad, but when it is politicians or speech makers it can become very wearing when you are trying to concentrate or sleep!
I came home again with my flask of tea, did some unpacking sorting and washing then decided it was time for some more exercise.
I set off for my regular exercise route around the VOC ground. I walk along the main road first and as I crossed the railway tracks, a motor bike came to a halt beside me and a man held out his hand and said "Good Evening". I prepared to be polite as people often stop and talk to me, but he went on, "I'm Alwar from Siva Cars, and this is my wife". Alwar is part of the extraordinarily efficient but adhoc system which has developed around me in India.
I get off a plane in Trivandrum and am greeted by a man with a board with my name on it who takes my case and drives me to an hotel. I settle in and at some point over the next couple of days I email Alwar who sends a car a couple of days later to drive me to Tirunelveli. It all happens without any money changing hands in advance and it all works. I'd never actually met Alwar before, but, as I've said before I stick out like a sore thumb here as I'm generally the only white woman in town!
Tirunelveli is a small town by Indian standards. Chennai the state capital has a population of over 10,500,000 while New Delhi, the capital of India, has a population of over 25,000,000. Tirunelveli on the other hand is a similar size to Edinburgh, around 470,000.
It does amaze me though how often I meet people I know as I walk around although as I say I am easy to spot. I thanked Alwar for stopping to say hallo and he took the chance to confirm my return car to Kovalam next week!
I walked on, to the VOC ground which is normally not too busy, today though being Sunday, there were lots of families and groups of people around as well as we walkers. The seating areas were also much fuller than usual. (extra)
People were walking, chatting, playing and generally relaxing in the slightly cooler evening, if was only about 30' now the sun had gone down. The dusty area in the centre of the ground had around a dozen impromptu games of football and cricket going on. There were balls flying in all directions and the standards ranged from 5-6 year olds who couldn't hit a ball to some rather fearsome batsmen and bowlers. They all managed not to get in each others way though and shared the space quite happily. There were no cows in the ground today and the stray dogs were all sheltering under the grandstands, keeping out of the way.
I carried on to Ruchi after doing a couple of circuits, had my dinner and came home again. 14,600 steps today so I'm quite happy with that 4/4 on target.

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