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Mud bricks & a raised rice-grass roof are the golden secret, the formula 1 of quality of living in hot, and monsoon rainy Tamil Nadu villages.
The bricks are left to bake dry in the sun. No extra energy or labor is wasted to kiln burn them.
These create a thick wall, as you can see in the doorway's cross section.
The roof is raised about a foot all around and hovering this way it allows hot, humid or smokey air to escape while letting in daylight in an omni ambiance that is easy on the eyes.
The roof is first laid with weaved coconut palms that create a decorative and crumbs-free ceiling then it is laid with bunches of rice-grass, the left over from paddy fields harvest.
The benefits of this traditional building technology are immense. And I had stayed, slept and ate in this homes to tell their legacy compared with modern day Tamil concrete 'cubicles'.
In summer months every one in a village knows that they should be visiting their relatives who kept their mud house. Those who are not lucky enough can be seen seated outside their front doors around noon and till early evening, waiting for the concrete and cement block walls to cool down.
The casual power-cuts are another time when those who tossed away tradition are left gazing in the dark.
So, why did they ever level their mud houses? For one, the Tamil govt. gives low-income families a fat grant to build a cement house and second is the roof maintenance that has to be replaced about once in 6-10 years at about the cost of 6 month household's income.
Some say fire can catch easily, either from cooking or from an evil neighbor. However homes that stand for 60 years testify the chances, say others.
Other stories of Tamil, Maharashtran, Malayali, Rajasthani, Gujarati... rural living from 2 years of backpacking on http://jpgmag.com/people/etand/stories
More about this documentary project and public program on My India: Where every village is home - Experience !
Mud house - Tamil Nadu village - coconut and rice grass roof - naturally indoor daylight lit ventilated and climate balanced - self made local construction materials - feature story tamilnadu India photo IMG_5502
Also by Etan Doronne
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