The year, the decade…the fuck?!

I love this retrospective shit, it’s just so… I don’t know, everything! …And indeed the teens were everything! We started the decade off in Baltimore, Maryland, and learned some hard lessons about living aboard in cold climates. We were definitely up for the challenge but a challenge it proved to be. S/V S.N. Nomad was an awesome boat and Baltimore is a pretty cool place but if we were going to be off-the-grid in cold we were going to have to figure out our onboard heating system. Once again, the proof was in the solution. We discovered that living aboard is not about bringing your great big old life down to the water, it’s about the reduction of life’s needs… The smaller your needs, the more manageable the solutions. …So we went sailing! In retrospect, this decade was about the adventure of sailing for us! We logged countless nautical miles underway from the Chesapeake Bay to the wilds of Maine and south (eventually) as far as Hilton Head, and along the way we learned how to reduce our needs to suit our lives. In 2014, we became professional sailors as cruising editors for a publication called the Waterway Guide. The money isn’t enough to actually live on and we’ve had our issues with the publication itself but we love the work and it keeps us underway. We’ve edited the guide from Southport, North Carolina, to Eastport, Maine, and it’s kept us yo-yoing the Eastern Seaboard of the US for five adventurous years now. We went back to India twice in this decade. Once to get me (James) some new teeth back in ’17… …and then again this year to finish a co-written manuscript we started back in ’17. The writing turned out to be an incredible experience for us both.[…]

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Meenakshi Amman Temple

If you’re thinking what I was thinking, yes! Meen as in meen kappa (fish curry with boiled tapioca/coconut/tumeric), but in this case, Meenakshi as in fish eyed, an old-fashioned compliment for women with almond-shaped eyes. You weren’t thinking that? Anyway, once we woke and had a lovely breakfast of idly, vada, sambar, chutneys, and a couple new Tamilian dishes we enjoyed, life looked far more cheerful than it had the night before. (Short story: attempted mugging) Setting off in the old streets around the Meenakshi Amman temple meant winding our way toward the center. This part of town was designed so that the streets are shaped like lotus leaves and the temple is in the middle. Specifically, I think, this: But that is most certainly jumping ahead. We avoided entering right off the bat by going into the market. The bundles of trim and lace and ribbon fascinated me. Any of my witches need a new cauldron? Safety in numbers… This temple complex covers 17 acres and the original temple is over 3000 years old, it was crushed by the Mugals (of course) and then rebuilt by the Hindus (of course) and it obvious what made it through the Mugal sacking (below). And indoor prayer areas: Non-hindus aren’t allowed in the actual shrine, but the galleries surrounding it are beautiful in their own right. Seriously. No, seriously. Even the workshop area has gravitas and incredible lighting. I am amazed by the loving care given these statues…actually, I don’t think it’s insulting to call them idols. I saw a bus called the “Passionate Idolators”. This stone figure has been rubbed with so much ghee that the stone looks hot. She’s standing on a peacock, but it didn’t make it into the picture. Every building is shot with beams of sunlight, and[…]

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Bicycle POV

As nervous as I was about cycling on Indian roads (lanes, paths, cliffs), there was no doubt in my mind that it would be better than driving, being driven, riding a motorcycle, or walking. The first two imply a car, and anything wide enough to hold 4 people is too wide. Either the roads (lanes, etc) barely accommodate the vehicle or the middle of the road is being used as a passing lane and the stress is simply more than I want to deal with. We do still take cabs now and then. We went the motorcycle route last time. It was great in some ways. Fairly efficient travel in any direction we wanted to go – low fuel consumption, nimble enough for narrow paths and well-slung enough for rough surfaces, fast enough for a couple cyclists. The Royal Enfield Bullet 350 is a lovely machine, too, with a comfortable and, ahem, stimulating growl. On the other hand, there was fuel to buy. James was the driver, which irritated me and stressed him. And while easy enough to maneuver, there’s a whole nother level of nimble that could improve the experience of moving about on these roads. Walking? It’s the only way to see every bit of a new neighborhood. It’s the only way to get every photo. And it’s the only way to have random conversations. Every other form of transportation moves too fast. On the other hand, we did so much walking between our arrival and getting the bicycles that I wore out a pair of shoes and my body thought I should give it a rest. Cycling, though. Wow. It’s good exercise, swift enough to put most of the city within our reach, and talk about nimble – we can ride almost anywhere we want and we[…]

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This is Tamarind

We went to a new lunch place today and got pretty freaked out. Prakash said we should check out the canteen at NISH (an institute for those with communication struggles), since it’s practically right out our front door. Not that he’d ever eaten there – it’s just the kind of place to have one. Today, we went there and arrived too early (as we do), but then we got fed a lovely meal by super-nice people and paid less than anywhere else nearby. Not only that, they do breakfast! Idly and sambar (we hope) in close proximity! Wow! We’ll be checking that out tomorrow morning. As we were walking back from lunch today we saw a couple of very nice people shaking a tree in quite a few different places. They’d shake and a bunch of brown pods would fall. We approached and asked what it was and the man reached into a bucket that he was rapidly filling with these things, pulled out a couple and handed them to us. He made the universal, “Go Ahead and Eat It, It’s Great!” gesture (Hand to mouth, big grin) so we did… Wow, Fucking wow!!! It was incredible! It was almost like my (James) body just absorbed the stuff, like I needed it, badly! And, it turns out it (my body) did. Tamarind is a very large, long lived shrub although to me it looks like a big tree. The evergreen leaves are elliptical ovular and pinnately veined; in other words, it’s cool looking. At night the leaflets close up like little books in a great green library. Now for the good part, it’s sweetly sour right off the tree and perfectly edible but best of all it is outrageously good for you, it has… 37% of your daily Thiamine, 13%[…]

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