Welcome to the official blog for Raleigh India 12I | July - August 2012

Welcome to the Official Blog for Raleigh India 12J September - December 2012.

Saturday 1 December 2012

Charlie Two – Far From The Madding Crowd Among The Tea Plantations

After visiting Tango 5, Ruth and I rounded off our 'Loop' visit by spending a couple of days with Charlie Two. They're helping to build toilets for eight families in the small, remote village of Uluvadu in the state of Tamil Nadu.

Uluvadu is set among stunning scenery and lush vegetation, the campsite among the best that Expedition 12J has encountered, and the host family and villagers hospitable and welcoming.

Caroline has kindly summed this up in her guest blog below, in which I’ve interspersed a few pictures by way of illustration.

28 November 2012

Bored from hours of sitting still, reading and staring at passing vehicles, we descended the steps of our bus. Immediately we found ourselves in a whole new world. We had entered the idyllic village of Uluvadu. As little girls draped flowers around our necks, the welcoming committee proudly showed us the village centre consisting of a handful of brightly coloured houses centred around a sweet little church.
The village church. Around 6% of Tamil Nadu's population is thought to be Christian

As the committee led us up to our host family, we had time to take in the beautiful scenery. We were surrounded by sun-kissed hills covered with tea fields as far as the eye could see.

'Anyone for tea?'

Our sense of satisfaction continued when we met our host family. We have the pleasure of staying with Jaien, Usha and their 14-year old daughter Davida. Jaien is the owner of the tea fields around his house and is always busy carrying bags of tea leaves on his head or climbing up trees to provide food for his goats. His dream is that one day he will be able to build a second storey on his house so he can grow old healthily by living higher up in the even fresher air. His wife Usha is equally hard-working and does the commendable job of being head of the village women’s self-help group.

Camping among the banana trees

Now, after a few days of work, we have settled into a routine in this lovely village. 

Every morning starts with our private karate class from Jaien, which includes some serious muscle control and pointed-toe ballet-like kicks. 

Sam and Appu being taught karate by Jaien, watched by the goats

With our new-found inner peace we set off to the village centre. Just like children doing a scavenger hunt, we try to discover the location of the mason, the quantity of bricks delivered and the work we’ll be doing for the day. We like to think of ourselves as professionals - making human chains for moving bricks, lifting bandoles of cement and drinking as much chai as possible.

Not just man's work - Appu and Caroline moving bricks assisted by women beneficiaries
Crystal doing a fine job of bricklaying
Blair, trowel in hand, prepares to help the mason

At one o’clock precisely we down tools and head towards the ‘lunch house’, where Lisi, Rada and their daughter are waiting to serve us their local speciality – fluffy white rice, two different vegetable sauces and our great favourites cold cabbage and papadoms.

Quinten and Seth enjoying a quiet after-lunch chat at the 'lunch house'

But the moment I cherish most is at the end of the day. Like one big family we sit on the porch with Jaien and Usha as we eagerly exchange stories about our day.

Caroline - Happy to be back at the campsite for the evening

Lastly, here are the team members saying hi as they set off to work yesterday (Thursday) morning.

News from Echo Three coming up shortly ...


  1. Seth Somers Charlie two 12Je

    lovely to see and hear you. you look very well and have certainly bulked up muscle wise. hair is looking great too, now you have stopped cutting it every 5 minutes. Interesting shoe lace arrangement on your boot in the photo of you and Quinten..looks like you are havign great fun and the scenery looks stunning. Thanks to Caroline for the blog and David for the video and photos..its about minus 2 here tonight brrrrr xx

  2. Blair Cunningham Charlie 2 12J
    Hi Blair good to see you in the video and glad to know you are thinking of us in freezing Scotland! Do you still have your moustache or have you shaved it off now? Hope you are getting on well with building the toilets. By the time you get home you will be a jack of all trades ! Hope you are all well.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon xxxx

  3. Voor Caroline, Charlie two, 12 Je
    Lieve Line, Wat heb je een mooi verslag geschreven. Heel beeldend en ook zo prachtig verwoord. Zo kunnen wij, thuisblijvers, op afstand écht meeleven. Dank je wel! Wij zijn inmiddels aan het aftellen: 10 nachtjes slapen to go en dus nog maar twee handen nodig! Wij verheugen ons je weer te zien. Afgaande op alle verhalen en foto’s die via het blog tot ons komen vraag ik mij af of jullie ook zo uitzien naar het weerzien :) Met het verstrijken van de tijd lijken jullie meer en meer verbonden!
    Lieve Pientje, geniet nog van de laatste dagen en keep up the good work. Zoen! en tot gauw, mammie en natuurlijk ook een dikke zoen van pappie, Rut en Bies

  4. hi quint! hoe is het daar? snel afspreken als je thuis bent! xx dorien melman

  5. quinten van der ent, tango 22 December 2012 at 23:53

    Hi quint,

    leuk filmpje, gelukkig niks veranderd! Kan me voorstellen dat je zo'n leuke tijd hebt dat je nog helemaal niet naar huis wilt. Maar komt wel goed, 1 weekje thuis en we gaan al weer lekker weg. Hier gaat alles ok behalve dat oma missisa sinds vrijdag in het ziekenhuis ligt. Ik zal als je me belt zeggen wat er gebeurd is. Ze is ok en mag eind volgende week waarschijnlijk er weer uit. Babette vananvond naar So you think you can dance en Jasper zijn grote tentamen ruim gehaald!! Bernou begint volgend weekend met de miljonairs fair. Geniet van je laatste weken , sterkte met het afscheid van al die mooie mensen, vrienden en het fantastische land en natuurlijk, have fun at Goa, dikke zoen, mama

  6. quinten van der ent, charlie 23 December 2012 at 00:21

    hi Quinten weet niet of je de tekst al hebt ontvangen , Ipad hapert dus stuur nogmaals de mail.
    Wat een fantastische verhalen , ben heel benieuwd naar je foto's van alle prachtige plekken, is nog maar even zoals je op you tube zei , 10 weken voorbij gevlogen .
    Was spannend weekend met de opname van oma M maar gelukkig is het hart weer onder controle en heeft ze alweer praatjes voor 10 . Eredivisie erg spannend Feyenoord RKC 2-0 , Ajax Psv 3-1 , Twente en Vitesse winnen ook dus top 5 ploegen op maar 4 punten van elkaar . Geniet van de laatste dagen van deze geweldige ervaring en dan gelukkig nog een weekje "bijkomen" in Goa , zie je de 19e , big hug Pap

  7. To: Caroline, Charlie 2

    Hello my lovely!!
    Sooo great to see how you guys are all doing...I've been checking the blog for DAYS!! Glad to see you're still rocking the pink hoodie and mamti-pants ;)
    I sent you guys a food package a week ago but I don't think you'll get it before the end :( Oh well, I tried! Hope you've been managing to top up your tan and chat to lots more handsome Indian men :p I can't wait till you're back in Holland so I can hear all your stories! Apparently it's snowing there now - my friend Nick showed me a picture from his apartment (PhD dude, in case you don't remember!)

    The UK is also freezing and I'm annoyed because I don't have many opportunities to show off my tan, nooo! You guys look like you're having an amazing time in Uluvadu and I wish I was there with you. Well done on the blog post too...it was really well written, you should have done one earlier! I'm very proud :)

    I'm jealous of all the amazing food you guys are eating on a daily basis, but admittedly I've been enjoying my favourite western delicacies again...green tea, roast dinners, Starbucks coffees, Ben & Jerry's, and SALADS, just to name a few ;) I also tried apple, cheese & honey pancakes yesterday, with the help of your extremely clear illustrated instructions ;) They were amazing!!! I'm gonna make them for my best friend Rob.

    New Year's Dive is on 1st Jan btw, so I was thinking of booking my flight for 30th Dec? We shall discuss deets when you arrive home though...until then, take care of yourself, I love you and I MISS YOUUUU!!!!



  8. To: Appu, Srida & Sam, Charlie 2.

    Hey guys!! Glad to see you're having fun in the village of Uluvadu. It looks so beautiful - I'm very envious right now! It was lovely to talk to you briefly the other day...I hope you're still enjoying the great food and the beautiful girls ;)

    What is sleeping in the tents like? Is it better or worse than the basha beds? I miss my basha loads...it took me days to get used to sleeping on a real mattress again. The campsite looks really nice anyway and I hope that there isn't too much rain?

    The UK is dark and cold, naturally :p There is some sunshine though if we're lucky, and for now, it's staying nice and dry. As it's nearly Christmas, everyone is going a bit crazy right now. I'm enjoying being back home, but still miss India a lot.

    Sam, I realise I never did pay you your 25 rupees back! Just thought I'd mention it here so you knew I did remember...eventually :P I'm sorry about that.

    I hope you all continue to have an amazing time out there :)

    Lots of love,


  9. Seth SOMERS - great to see you are still alive and not eaten by leeches. We are so looking forward to seeing you again and hearing about how ha you have worked. Next week is forecast as the coldest week in living memory. Go to Goa!!! Love Dad xxx