Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Review 2018


Happy New Year 2018! 
As every morning I am so grateful for the view from my bed through the window to this visual beauty in our garden, the pond with the biotope behind, the realm for the local wildlife – birds, civets, owls, eagles … 


Beside the passion fruits on the same structure grow »neycumbalam« from the seeds of our kitchen waste, a kind of pumpkin, which is a very healthy vegetable to detox the body, why it is being used in Ayurvedic diets – and of course in our kitchen. 


In January the two cashew nut trees in front of the Sylviander House are in blossom, after some weeks we can harvest the fruits and the nuts. Squirrels and bats will come frequently since the cashew fruits – cashew manga – is one of their favorites …


As every year there are always some repairs to do. Once a wall collapsed due to lots of rain, once the motor of the water pump gave up, sometimes a tap here and there is leaking … for all that we need experts to repair, but to paint the balustrade Alexander can do himself. 


Happy to have our Austrian friend Erwin again as a guest in our house! Accidentally as sometimes our nephew Joyal appears for a visit …


This year Erwin is accompanied by his friends Christine, Evelyn, Monika. Altogether we spend wonderful days full of talks about life and lots of laughter …


In our Art Museum Erwin shows me the Sufi dance, which he is practicing passionately. He also has brought the original music from his Turkish master. 


After our dance everybody has a look at Alexander’s paintings and drawings. 


Every evening we enjoy dinner together …


… and today Alexander was very lucky to get big shrimps for us on the market.


He is the main chef at the Sylviander House, I am his assistant being responsible for salads and coffee. 


Every morning he cycles to the village market to buy fresh vegetables and fish or shrimps. He only chooses fish or shrimps, which where caught from the fishermen at Chettikad beach and hence very fresh. 


With friends from Germany who stayed some weeks with us, we sit in the evenings on the cool verandah to continue our talks … 


One morning while having breakfast, a young bird flies into our kitchen. We are wondering, how this could happen and what kind of bird it was – a young eagle?


On of our neighbor, Jose, from whom we often buy his self grown organic vegetables, takes care of the bird. But unfortunately more than some weeks it doesn’t survive. 


Sometimes – as it is typical for the youngest of a family to need some special attention and treatment – our baby cat boy Leo insists to be hand fed. 


However when we have shrimps for lunch or dinner, nobody of our cats needs to be hand fed, they are crazy for the leftovers – head, skin and tail. 


This is our ritual every morning. All our three cats – Simba, Moojoo, Leo – come up to my writing room to get their morning »Leckerli«, which they never want to miss. 


When I prepare a guest room, Moojoo often insists to help me! Better not to let her know! 


Guests arrive from Europe, Petra, a german friend, and Catherine from Paris, a friend of our french friend Bridget, who has been here the year before. 


And more guests arrive from Bavaria … 


… then a family from France … 


… as always enjoying the meals, prepared by our main chef Alexander … 


… and of course my salads too, which I prepare European style with olive oil, balsamico and my self-made mustard. A salad with such a dressing is nowhere else here to get, but we Europeans love it. 


Sometimes our guests write to us later when they are back home, how happy they are to have lost some kilo of weight without abstaining from anything – how great to feast and lose weight at the same time! 


Again and again good-bye with a traditional photo in front of our Sylviander House … 


Since there is a little gap in the bookings we use the chance to undertake an excursion together with German friends to Tamil Nadu. 


Back at Sylviander House while preparing the rooms for the next guests to arrive, our nephew Babel visits us with his pretty wife Naveena and his little son Paul. 


Since we don’t do any advertisements, people will find us intuitively. Some get the informations in several travel guides, one French, two German, some have read my books I’ve written about my experiences in India, especially in Kerala, and search for me in the internet, some are friends or friends of friends …


That’s why always soulmates reach at the Sylviander House, where we spend very relaxed days altogether … 


… in the evenings chilling on the verandah and talking … 


… talking while having breakfast, sometimes sitting there up to noon. 


Before breakfast many like to catch the first sun rays, contemplating or writing diary or watching birds and butterflies in the cashew nut tree.


One of our guests, Lisa, an art student, involves us into her art project …


And again good-bye! 
Our German friends, Andrea and Rolf, will journey on to an Ayurveda clinic for a treatment. 


For the first time this tree is full in blossom. Many years back I’ve bought it as a small plant, believing it was a fruit tree. But it is not, only a blossom tree! 
Actually when I plant a tree, it should be useful, means giving fruits for us humans or berry and seeds for birds. Whatever grows without my hand, I let it grow … 


As every two months we have the Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camp in our house. Then the Tibetan team together with Dr. Dorjee Rapten travel by night train from Bangalore to Aleppey (Alappuzha) and stay some days at our Sylviander House, which then turns to a consulting place for many patients, arriving from everywhere around. 


For the May Camp the Portuguese artist, Francisca Carvalho from Lisbon, had come to volunteer. I had an interesting conversation with her, and sometimes as in such cases I feel pity, that we might never meet again in our life – but who knows?!


While the May Camp is going on I have to leave to Germany for some weeks.


Moojoo as she understands very well is occupying my suitcase, while Leo keeps on going fully relaxed sleeping in »his« plant pot. 


Our beloved stray cat boy Rosso, which grew up with foundling Leo, looks wilder each time I see him. Since he is not castrated, he has a lot of fights with other male cats, and I assume, by doing so that he is catching quite some diseases. Before my departure to Germany in beginning of May I will see him the last time, what I cannot guess – even my fear about him is growing each time to see him in a bad shape. I say good-buy to him with some »Leckerli«, telling him to take care and not to fight so much … but one of his fights in may he won’t survive. Alexander sees him in our garden in a quite bad shape for the last time in the middle of May. We miss him a lot, he was a very, very special cat boy, very affectionate to me, most of the nights coming to my writing room to sleep on my divan for some hours …


Leaving to Germany in the beginning of May it is raining, coming back in the beginning of June it is raining too as it did nearly every day since my departure, which is very unusual. Monsoon normally would start beginning of June. We couldn’t guess yet what a monsoon Kerala will have to face in this summer of 2018. 


During the July Camp, the path to the Sylviander House is under water, so the Tibetan team becomes bravely active by digging some drains, which means quite a lot of work, but fun too.  


Fortunately my friend Mrinalini can manage to join for volunteering. In the past years she has been several times at the Sylviander House and has shown me in our garden the healing plants, which I have torn out thinking they are just weed. Once some years back, she gave a lecture in our garden to the local women here from Chettikad. 
See on my blog: Lecture of Mrinalini Rajgopal on healing plants in our surroundings: http://sylvianderhouse.blogspot.in/2013/10/lecture-of-mrinalini-rajgopal-on.html


This time I take the chance to make an interview with her for the Wellbeing report. 
See: 
63rd Wellbeing Camp Report by Sylvie Bantle | (July 2018)


In the coming weeks Kerala is troubled by constant heavy rains. The dams are filled up and to avoid an overflow, the authorities are forced to open the shutter, which leads to floods in the lower land. Roads and towns are under deep water, many locations are isolated due to flooded roads, broken roads and mud slides in the mountains. Hundred of thousands of people have to leave their homes, many have to be rescued by boats, because the water level is to high. Very touching is the heroic help of the fishermen folks, who load their boats on trucks, heading to the most troubled areas and rescue thousands of people from their flooded houses meters high in the water … Even the International Airport of Kochi is under water for weeks. 


But for all that, the Sylviander House is safe as all the other houses close to the beach … 
End of August the heavy rains stop and Kerala finds gradually back to normal life. Not all but most of the important roads are accessible again, however in a very bad shape. We are glad, that the September Camp can take place. Many patients are seriously sick and need their medicines. 


On the 64th Wellbeing Camp in September I am in the focus and Suresh Babu makes an interview with me for the Wellbeing report. 
See: 
64th Wellbeing Camp Report | (September 2018)


The Wellbeing Tibetan Medical Camps will always await us with some surprises and we experience a lot of joy for sure. Besides Indian patients also foreigners come for consultation. Sometimes they bring their meal and sit together with the Tibetan team for lunch. 


It is very rare, that a peacock walks through our garden, which means a great excitement for our cats. When Leo tries to hunt this beautiful bird, luckily he has no success. He is a little hunter anyway, also hunting the dead fish before he eats it. 


In Oktober Alexander leaves to Mumbai for his solo exhibition at the Guild Gallery … while I stay at home with our cats exploring the art of nature … 


Only at a second look I understand, this is not a leave but a butterfly or a motte, this is not a dry wooden stick but a very strange creature … 


One morning lost in thought I stare at my papaya plants behind the kitchen, among them some male plants with many beautiful small flowers, which never will produce fruits … 


… then suddenly I make an exciting discovery. 


I’m wondering, why I haven’t recognized these many hearts on their stem before … 


Our last day of the year we happily spend with wonderful guests and friends, having a great meal and some glasses of wine … »This is my best Sylvester of the last many years« says one of them, happy about the philosophical talks and the fun. 



– Photographs by Sylvie Bantle, Alexander Devasia and guests –

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