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What’s Going On?

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What’s Going On?

This is a picture of an injured 70 year old Aam Aadmi Party candidate from Punjab who was beaten up by goons. His name is Dr Dharmvir Gandhi and he is standing for elections from the State of Punjab. I am rather caught up and distracted by the news and the attacks on these candidates and their supporters. However, slowly the party’s volunteers with their refusal to be violent in return, like true Gandhians, have managed, especially in the town of Varanasi in the state of Uttar Pradesh where the big name ticket of the BJP, flush with funds and goondas, is standing opposite Arvind Kejriwal, the founder of the Aam Aadmi Party, to charm those on the offensive who are now listening to them and offering them tea and welcoming them.

Well no need to recount again what this Common Man’s Party is all about but to see the philosophy behind those who carry out attacks and contrast it with the ‘spirituality’ that India is said to personify.

But here are some photos to get an idea of how elections take place. There is much more from other parts of the country but I have a few pictures and those I thought I would post today.

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This is a supporter and volunteer who was sitting with others in Varanasi when some BJP goons attacked them.

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This poor guy was beaten up in Amethi, by Congress goons.

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And I guess you get the picture.

This election has been the biggest scandal that this country has been inflicted with. We have a parliamentary system with very unparliamentary members of the polity who are so shameless and unsound in everything they do. The large section of people who never figure in any consideration of the mainstream parties are being drawn to this revolutionary new party that may sound naïve but is as the Hindu newspaper quoted  are a very dangerous group for those who have no understanding of the term ‘democracy’.

So we wait till May the 16th when the results will be out and we will know whether goons are going to run the show or whether someone better is or whether there will at least be a good opposition party. Because the Aam Aadmi Party is here to stay. They have done plenty in such a short time but they will have time to breathe and strengthen their base and their footing whatever the result. It is so heartening to see how they have enthused the many professionals, social workers, activists and other ordinary people who cannot fathom the level of mischief and wicked deeds that go on in the name of governance and politicking. Ever since the present government enacted the Right To Information Act by which records of public works and others can be applied for and challenged and made public RTI activists are being murdered all over the country.

Right now I am a bit heartsick because even to write about this gives one a feeling of ill health and a bad headache but things must be done sometimes.

You know, I remember my mother in the 1960s talking about an important election and it’s result. She was always arguing and discussing the country’s state and the political scenario. I got sick of things some years ago and just opted out but this time I have to be somewhat involved, if only writing a blogpost.

I would like to add a photo of the gentle mannered Arvind Kejriwal and here he is:1964926_667905456602446_220103728_n

My Mother’s OK

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My Mother's OK
This is a damaged but fairly good photo of my parents from the 1960s. It is the festival of lights, Diwali and they are celebrating with other Anglo-Indians. We celebrate a lot of festivals but now that we are so much older ourselves there are THINGS TO DO!

I have been wanting to write about Mummy’s bedsore for a long time. There are a few people following this blog who have elderly parents they are caring for so this could be a bit of a dialogue in case I have made some mistakes in treating it and in case I can give some insights into the treatment of bed sores.

First of all we panicked! The lady and I who discovered it on the 1st of February. It was a ghastly sight, a large crater with flesh gouged out it seemed, and oozing some liquid. It was a Sunday morning so our doctor was not on call but I ran to the internet to check and my heavens, the news was bad. Apparently it can be fatal if an infection sets in. The mistake all this while was in thinking that it was a bad form of her psoriasis and so Neosporin powder was being liberally applied. It had a large scab and during a bath the scab separated to show the crater under it.

She had been eating poorly for months, refusing solid food and my sister had been at her wit’s end to figure out how to tempt her to eat. I am not anywhere near as good or innovative a cook as my sister is. She became so upset about the whole thing which was just not at all her fault. Sharada had been on a months leave and the substitute lady had not been able to keep her as well tended.

Anyway Monday morning the doctor came and looked at it. He said it was pretty bad, prescribing some medical ointment, changing of position constantly and lots of protein in the diet.

After a week of this treatment we were really very much more worried because nothing seemed to have changed and there was quite a bad odour too. So we asked him to visit again. Apparently it was the ointment that had such a rotten smell because as soon as it was discontinued things were fine. This time he prescribed antibiotics and suggested we get her an air mattress or a waterbed which would relieve pressure. We had been changing her position and also making her sit up in the wheelchair. Mummy has a weak right leg so she has difficulty in turning on her side and lies constantly on her back, even sleeping in this position. The bedsore was on her lower back, where probably the pressure was the most acute.

So then it was tackled on a war footing, as they say. The diet was discussed with Dr Anwar and he said give her egg and fish and chicken. So that was on the menu. She needs vegetables and fruit so that was on too. And milk and cheese helped. Her eating regimen was reversed. She now has a soup which is actually dal and daliya (broken wheat) and vegetables cooked with something green and with a little ginger and garlic, salt and pepper and then liquidized. This is her lunch. She may have some sweet yogurt or ice cream or fruit after for dessert. At night she has more variety. She gets more interested in eating by the early evening, that’s why soup is the afternoon meal now. She is ready to have her milk and cookies in the evening and then either the scrambled eggs, French toast, pasta or tuna fish sandwich which is my repertoire for now. Well the diet helped I think. She gradually gained her overall health back and is now more mentally alert, speaks a bit and says some things in protest now and again.

We got her an air mattress which has pockets in it which fill and empty at different times so that the levels continuously change. Later, he suggested an inflated ring on which she has to lie with the affected part inside the open space of the ring to relieve all pressure on it. By now about a month had passed and he was satisfied with the progress. It had dried up, the slough that was forming had stopped and new flesh was growing inside the edge of the crater that had itself shrunk. he had prescribed a liquid antibiotic which was poured inside to reach into the inner recesses of the sore.

Now our job is to see that a new bedsore does not develop. It can cause septicaemia and this is fatal to bedridden patients. There is a lot more that is scary and of course bedsores should be dealt with urgently on discovery and never, never neglected till there is no trace of them and for this turning positions of the patient is vital.

That is the situation now so everyone is relieved, needless to say!

I would really be happy to gain new insights into this problem from any angle, diet, treatment physically etc. I may have forgotten some things but in discussion maybe it will come to mind. Oh yes, we used a diet supplement called Ensure. I am not sure about this because some people say these things are scams but maybe people can enlighten me.

 

Gardening Zen

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Gardening Zen

This post is about something I am pleased to have accomplished. And that is making compost from scrap. It was a pleasing two hours I spent yesterday, mixing soil from the nursery with the rich, healthy smelling compost made over the last six to nine months. I had two containers going and when they were full of kitchen scraps, garden clippings, eggshells etc, I just forgot about it and when I opened it yesterday to find out how it was faring it was ready to use. I made some good looking mix and then in the empty container started off a new process. I also have a lovely terracotta container in three parts which I bought here in Pune. That will be the next lot I use, but not for months.

I bought a croton and some pink verbena yesterday. They look so colourful and gorgeous next to each other.

So lots of photos today. Most are fresh but some are from when the plants were flowering and have now been pruned.

I bought the hens and chicks plant and have to pot it into a better container. For now it is standing happily next to the mixed mini garden.

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Here is the verbena looking rather flashy!

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The variegated Schefflera now has bigger leaves than when I bought it, my good soil of course.

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The taller plants work as screens for privacy but do not block the breeze.

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Tht’s the principle at work in the bedroom balcony too but in summer the sun is fierce and the plants are really under stress so have to be maintained carefully. I have pruned some and cut some for propagating so there is a bit of an empty look. The view, not so clearly seen here, is of the solar panels on top of the serviced apartments called Oakwood, opposite our place. I am so pleased with the sight always.

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This is on the living room balcony. This piece of furniture used to be in the kitchen but when we had a pantry built it was moved out here to hold plants handsomely.

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We call this money plant. Is this some kind of philodendron? anyone?

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Newly planted croton. I am so in love with the colours.

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here is a close up of the mixed soil and compost (the darker bits).

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I stopped pruning this vine which gets pretty tiny blue flowers like mini morning glories but it is now refusing to flower and just going wild all over the place. That’s OK for now.

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Here’s one of my containers for making compost – just an old wastepaper bin. That’s new stuff being put in to rot!

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This well made terracotta three-piece container is for making compost. I bought it from Swacch, an organization in Pune which teaches and assists in the correct, eco-friendly way to deal with waste.

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Here it is with the upper compartment open to show the top layer of garden dry leaves and such. I do this to prevent smell and insects from getting into the kitchen waste. Please do remember never to use cooked food while making compost.

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This section onwards are old photos of plants which have now been pruned. They will look lush and flower in a bit of time.

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This was something I learnt from Pinterest. I cut a tomato in quarters and buried it in soil. It gave up some pretty seedlings and turned into a vine which gave me about twenty seven tomatoes. I was really pleased, I was.

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Lastly, this is my Buddha garden which I made after seeing something similar a friend had done.

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And this here is what I can see if I sit in my armchair by the door and look out. Not a bad sight, as far as I’m concerned.

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My gardening implements consist of an old kitchen knife, my kitchen scissors for light pruning. I cannot work with gloves, they drive me crazy so I just let mud get on my hands and then wash them and apply moisturizer. I do have a hardy pair of secateurs though and they are used well to keep things in control otherwise there would be a jungle out there. It’s all very hit and miss though and I have had to learn from many, many mistakes. I have learnt a lot from Pinterest. There are gorgeous photos pinned which inspire a love of garden growing, lots of hints, lots of good advice and ideas.

I’d like to tell you all that my sister has a gardening blog. It’s on wordpress too and it’s called oxygenforthesoul.wordpress.com

 

Food, Blessed Food

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Food, Blessed Food

Today I had a look at how much I weighed and got a terrible fright. Hugely overweight. How has this happened I’m moaning and complaining, I hardly eat anything (not true of course), why have I started putting on weight? And other such nonsense.

I wanted to write about how we have cured the, or should I say the one and only bedsore, so far, that Mummy has had to suffer. I will write about how scary it is to find one and how to treat it but I have got completely distracted by this weight issue.

The reason maybe that she developed this sore was that she had lost a lot of weight at the end of last year, was refusing to eat, and was really bony. Maybe a pressure point developed because of that. On discovering it we went into action and had to work out how to improve her food and her appetite and her nutritional balance.

To give her vegetables and fruits is all very well but she has to want to eat them. As you can see from the photo, the dish looks pretty bland. But in it I’ve added all sorts for flavouring, some ginger and garlic paste and some coriander leaves, some pepper and salt. She does not like chilli. So that’s one meal a day which she has without trouble only if I blend it and she can drink it down.

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I got this tin of supplementary food powder so that I could add it on days I was uncertain about how well she was eating. As I’ve already said earlier she has porridge of oats in the mornings with a mashed banana in it.

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She likes this fruit so it’s easy to get through breakfast. They get ripe rather fast in the heat and we have to keep buying them every two-three days since more means I have to turn it into cakes and banana bread, all of which she eats with as much fuss as anything else. I want to try semolina porridge too if she would eat it.

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Other fruits I have to disguise and put together with ice cream in her dessert section! Or I make a milkshake – that is when I add the food supplement because a milkshake does not feel like much food.

And I have been giving her eggs and fish too. Sandwiches, scrambled eggs and tuna fish etc.

And making cakes and cookies and pasta. That’s the whole problem.

She likes pasta, but I LOVE it. I make such a large quantity so my mother gets enough and then we sit down to dinner and that’s it, appetite (mine) overcomes all sense of proportion and common sense too. And I have been making carrot cake, soft, smooth, yogurt and sugar carrot cake, for her, er, me. I think I’ve consumed more than she has. I’ve made chocolate bread pudding and banana and chocolate chip bread, and cookies with butterscotch bits. The chocolate bread pudding I last made when my kids were at home and it is really easy to just have helping after helping. I have not been taking pictures of these goodies. Food pictures are very dangerous for me. When I’m looking at photos of those fabulous baked dishes on Pinterest I get up and go looking for something in the fridge. My friends are consoling me by saying it’s your thyroid, or it’s hereditary or whatever, but I think it’s my mother’s diet.

I wish she would like these things as much as I do. Or that Uday would polish them off, but no, they are just nibblers. Well, not to be too unkind to myself, all these treats HAVE made Mummy better, even if she has them in smaller quantities than I do. She is certainly more lively, more articulate about what she wants or not. If only I had more self control. Carbohydrates and sugar together are my undoing.

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My daughter called today and when I told her my weight I got such a long-distance firing from her and ordered to the gym and to exercise and perhaps try, at least, to control my hunger pangs and shrink that tummy and along with it appetite. I went downstairs, raced around the building till I was sweaty and tired and hot, it is this disgusting summer that’s making me even more inactive.

I am of course, in a quandary, how to keep giving Mummy the kinds of food that have obviously made a difference to her and yet eat less of it myself. I’m thinking about it. I think checking weight regularly is part of the way to control cravings and obviously, doing much more activity. Suvarna is on leave so I have been a bit more active housework wise, otherwise I tend the garden, make beds, clean the bathrooms and tidy up or clean closets, do my sewing and altering, etc. I don’t think this is very hard work and I am thoroughly ashamed to admit it. I cook mostly in the early evenings after she has gone and I have the kitchen to myself, or at about eight o’clock after I come upstairs from my so-called walk. I like to keep cleaning as I cook and she does everything afterwards, so the counter is full of a million things and I find it confusing. She does not like the trips I keep making to the kitchen if she is in there so we give each other space.

I am sure that I can conquer this problem. Others have done it, including a blogger I follow who has just run the London marathon. It needs a fresh take on the whole business of eating and this blessed food is not going to get me to be a useless lump. I am going to note the nutrition as well as the calories consumed, and, basically, DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. That is a note to myself. Wish me luck.

But before I go, HAPPY EASTER. Have a really blessed day.

(“Blessed” is a common adjective used among my community in place of say, “cursed”…it’s a way I guess of being genteel or something, from days gone by and was very common to describe some nuisance activity or thing especially when I studied in Convent schools, long, long, long, long ago).

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Creating Stuff

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Creating Stuff

Today is the 15th of April. The day after tomorrow, our state, Maharashtra, goes to the polls for the General Elections and I hope to vote if all goes well. I will have a lot of interesting things to report that day. Of course we will have to make sure that someone is in the house with my mother when we go out because if queues are long we may be waiting some time there.

In the meantime, I have photos of things I do and have done some time ago which is a collection of some handiwork. The first photo, sorry it is so blurred, is of a small pillow I made with our initials in large and our names worked in smaller alphabets. It’s neat to tuck under one’s neck while reading. There are other photos of things that I like doing. Firstly, it saves a lot of money making stuff and then, you can use things you have around the house to make things that go together. First up another set of pillows. We call them cushions in India. These are in the living room.

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I have some old photos of a sampler bag I made years ago and named it ‘floor of the rainforest’. It has some imaginary botany though.

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'floor of the rainforest' sampler bag, made donkey's years ago...

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I make hand bags quite often and keep them carefully!

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This one is made from a shimmery fabric and has sequinned flowers applied. These days I store precious things in it.

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I made this one in the US using a tote I bought from Michaels and a fabric paint pen.

Below is a textile piece made from pieces of a sari sewn onto a thicker base fabric and edged with embroidered strips and with four chain stitch triangles completing it. It is a contemporary take on traditional textiles. I use it as a piece of glamorous fabric to drape on my sofa.

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Susan's projects

A floor cushion made from drapery fabric and using embroidered pieces with metal trimming. It is stuffed with cotton wool.

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A dress I made for my grand daughter a few years ago. I have made many but the pictures aren’t all available.

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This is a drawing done from an advertisement for hand-cream or something.

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A dress I knitted for my grand daughter while in the US. My American nephew in law was the only one of the younger generation who knew anything about knitting and it was such fun to have him listen to me explaining how I created the ruffle at the hem, how many stitches I cast on and so on!

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I had an assortment of handmade glazed tiles and used them to cover an old table which was falling apart.

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This is a picture I made for an empty wall by using printouts of the background and of the sketch from the Internet, put them together and into a frame that was lying about the house. I rarely throw anything away.

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We were going to a wedding with my small grand daughter. I made her a silk Indian style dress and since my daughter did not want to put metal on her ankles (silver anklets) I made these out of some trimming. She was enjoying a good snooze at the wedding when I took this photo.

And that’s it for now about what I fool around doing with my time.

This Is Pune

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Out and about in Pune, to do things and see places.

My mother can’t go out at all but she knew Pune very well when she was a young woman doing her secretarial training here in the 1940s. She would tell us about what a charming part of town the area close to where we live was once upon a time, with banyan tree lined streets and sleepy lanes, and bungalows set back in large grounds. She herself stayed in the YWCA and only saw this place a few times. Where we live now was long deserted farmland which slowly became urbanized. Pune is a larger place in 2014 with growth in all directions. We go to a lot of different places and of course everyone has seen malls, stores etc so no photos of those from me.

The fresh looking tomatoes, onions and coriander are from pictures my daughter took of a street food stall, long ago, when we went out together one evening.

In those days Main Street, which used to be one of Pune’s stylish shopping centres, was turned on Saturday evenings into a walking plaza. It was fun for people who could buy snacks and even get free wi-fi for their computers and the best thing was that there was no traffic. But eventually the shop keepers complained that their businesses were affected on these evenings and ultimately these unique events were put an end to.

Here are pictures of my favourite local snack. It is called bhel puri. Made from puffed rice, mixed with green chutney and tamarind chutney and with all these fresh ingredients (seen in the main picture) stirred in, it is DELICIOUS.

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This is the bhel puri stall and

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this is the stall chef getting the ingredients stirred vigorously together. Most people use stainless steel utensils for such preparations as they are tough and clean and don’t let chemicals into the food which can happen when sour ingredients such as lime and tamarind are used.

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These are other garnishes that go on top and make it more flavourful.

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Here is another expert making a different kind of popular snack. Probably aloo parathas, if I’m not mistaken.

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This is water provided for anyone who wants it. It is a custom to do this in many parts of the country and quite a common sight (though maybe less now, in the more ‘stylish’ localities). Well there’s more to the walking plaza but so much of it for now.

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I spotted this mural painted on the side of a railway crossing’s little cabin. It is close by here. This Hindu god’s representation like this is a rare sight. I had never seen anything like this before. Now a little shrine covers the space where the dogs are so they are out of sight.

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This is the Aga Khan palace in Pune where Gandhiji was kept under house arrest by the British during one period of his agitation against colonial rule.

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The prisoners lived very simply. Mahatma Gandhi was also lodged at a different time in Pune’s famous Yerawada jail, it’s most famous occupant. For his satyagraha and non-violent and civil-disobedience movements against the colonials he spent great amounts of time incarcerated. Just a reminder in case I give the impression that he lounged around in luxury. These were the bare furnishings – the desk is meant to be used while sitting on the floor.

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Kasturba, his wife, and some close aides also shared the house arrest with him.

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School kids starting young to learn about the history of their country. They were such a joyful little bunch with good natured teachers looking after them.

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The city is surrounded by low hills. This view is from the farmhouse of some friends.

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Closer to home is this tree where the crows gather. They are most interesting.

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And last but not least, this beautiful moth who got inside in December 2012 when we were a houseful, my kids and grandkids and Mummy and us all in this house. We switched off the lights and put the balcony light on and soon he was outside where he belonged.

That’s a smallish glimpse of Pune. I hope you enjoy it.

 

 

This Old House

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The house as it looks in the present day.

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The entrance with Denis’ official photo

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The garden – one of the angles

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There is a classroom on the verandah where we would gather

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The dining area on the verandah. They have kept all the old furniture in good shape.

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Extensive plantings along the wall.

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Deborah in the garden.

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Fruit gathered from the trees all around the garden.

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Laden with fruit.

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The porch with nice stone paving.

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Festive looking flowers, just enjoying the sun’s warmth.

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Some of the girls with Mother Teresa. Years ago my parents asked me to make the covers for these chairs. Felt so nostalgic.

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It is a simple yet comfortable home for these girls from destitute families. They were a laughing and energetic crowd.

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We took white roses to plant near the grave.

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Prayers near the grave.

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All of us after the prayers were said.

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The sweet, kind people who look after the place with Deborah.

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They grow vegetables for their kitchen on this side.

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More vegetables.

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Sun-loving plants and a Christmas Tree.

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A peaceful resting place.

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Nearby is the grave of Denis’ beloved dog Max. The words describe him: Brave, Happy

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After Mass and prayers at the grave we had a wonderful breakfast. My niece Arati,  her Mom my sister Jeanne, Mother Teresa, Mushtaq, our taxi driver and Debbie. They were so hospitable and affectionate.

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I took this close-up of an appam. Gosh, they were delicious.

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Then on the road to Hyderabad where I took this photo of an autorickshaw. This was a pleasant and nostalgic visit to a city and a village which has a dear place in our hearts.