Dreams from a concrete matrice

Day 29

The next weeks route from Chennai to Bangalore was to be a skip along the brethren trail. Each night I would spend in a new town with a new family from the christian brethren denomination. Each night the activities of Tamil Nadu Brethren family life were woven patiently between the hours of intermittent government electricity cuts, totalling at 14 hours per day. Cooking, a late dinner, family bible study, prayer and communal sleep side by side on woven mats for dreams from a concrete matrice were all followed with comforting text book reliability, only different people, different villages and different levels of wealth or poverty.

I rode to Shriperumbader to meet Brother Louis and his family. His son took me for an evening walk to see a memorial park for an assassinated prime minister. He was very much loved for his promotion of equality. By all it seems but the Tamil Tiger rebel group. The park was impressive with 7 stone pillars topped with gold symbols to represent the 7 virtues of something or other. One virtue was education but the rest were not important enough for the boy to remember. More interesting was to talk with the boy about arranged marriage. He was happy to have his father find his wife. When I told him I must find my own but will take her to my father for his opinion and approval, his response was that his father would beat him if he did such a thing. Perhaps figuratively speaking. In the night his father, him and I slept on mats on the church floor while the wife and daughter slept in the simple home.

day 30

A 30km ride to the temple town of Kanchhipuram. I met with another brethren elder in the night who took me to sleep in a tiny bus shelter sized church which held a modest congregation of 15

Day 40

On the highway to Vellore to stay with another brother. Tonight's bible study was in English with more well off educated doctors.

Day 41

I woke to find an old man poking around the lock on my tricycle. It so happened he was a wheel spoker and pointed out the pile of spokes and rims under a nearby tree ready for the days work. It turned out that these wheels were not destined for bicycles but would be taken to a nearby factory making hand powered tricycles. I followed him to the factory to see disabled workers at pressing machines and half made tricycles. One worker cruised around the grounds on my cycle while I tried his model. I found mine is more versatile for varieties of terrain and easier to control while theirs is more suitable and faster on flat even ground and much cheaper. The quality is perhaps less as is the seating support, ongoing patient assessment and compliance with world health standards. It was nice to see that they only employed disabled workers where possible.

I rode on to Vaniyambadi where the locals debated over my ragged piece of paper on which my destined address was scrawled. One man led me down a remote rode to a simple concrete home among the banana trees. I had been unable to contact the family to request their hospitality beforehand and was now confronted with a confused non English speaking woman unsure why this white man on a strange machine had arrived at her doorstep. A phone call to Nana Segal in Chennai cleared the situation and she welcomed me warmly. In the evening her husband Joseph collected a disabled boy in leg braces to try out the cycle.

I then played numerous games of chess with his enthusiastic 14 year old daughter who must have been happy to finally have an opponent. For the first time in my life I was a chess master and she happily accepted multiple defeat while I was happy for a new form of interaction and distraction from late dinner hunger pains as dinner is difficult to prepare by power cut and torch lite. After bible study we all slept side by side on woven mats. Husband, Wife, daughter, son and me an unexpected yet warmly welcomed white stranger. I lay uncomfortably on the concrete yet listened happily to the billowing of 4 differently sized dreaming lungs. Panting contentedly as one cam driven family machine at my side.

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