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Monday, March 03, 2014

Weekend in West Godavari

"They sell fish and buy cars," said my friend and host, most matter-of-factly, as we watched a shiny white sedan draw up by the dusty track outside the house. She was referring to the rapid replacement, over the past decade, of lush paddy fields by aquaculture ponds that brought quick riches for a large number of entrepreneurs in the region. Of course, there are also several stories of those quick bucks making an equally quick exit, but there's no denying that West Godavari is one of the most prosperous areas in the undivided state of Andhra Pradesh.

But I wasn't really here to engage in an economic analysis of the district. I was, in fact, here to disengage from analysis and simply take that much needed break from a non-stop series of deadlines. It was the first step in taking my own advice seriously (ref: my previous post).

So, here are a few moments from that pause in my city-fied routine.
I find myself, an unlikely pilgrim at the Ramana Kendram in Jinnuru

The two heroes of the district, Alluri Seetharamaraju and Sir Arthur Cotton flank the ubiquitous Gandhi bust outside Jinnuru's community library

On the edge of the new economy of prawns; aquaculture in Peddanindrakolanu

Jesus and Israel help us relieve our thirst with freshly picked tender coconuts

Gadde Danamma watches a herd of goats with her trusted aide

...while the Goddess of the paddy fields tries to ward off inclemency of various kinds

Emerald green and fiery orange: my lasting impression of the Godavari basin
And then there are pictures that are left for my mind to savour: a rickety yet pleasant auto-rickshaw drive from Bhimavaram to Peddanindrakolanu; a walk across the village with my friend Sreedevi and Parvathi, who insists on showing us both the Sivalayam and the Krishna temple (rare moments for the skeptic in me); waking up to crisp, hot pesarattu spiced with chopped onions and green chillies, made by Pinnamma; sitting on the terrace and watching the sun set over a scene I had only so far seen in the odd Telugu movie.