Building with local materials

I then had three central posts erected, 12′ apart. First, short brick pedestals were built encasing short sculpted stone posts I bought from one of the many shops that sell parts dismantled from village homes, giving way to new constructions. A half bag of cement was used to build these. On top of these pillars, turned wooden shoes were fitted. These shoes are to locate sturdy bamboos, the top of which will stand at 18′.

I could conceivably have sourced bamboo from this very village but I had to buy a whole bush, have it trimmed and sell the lot, keeping what I wanted. What I wanted was a variety: sturdy tall ones for king posts, strong,long ones as runners at the ridge and the eaves, several long ones to lay on the slope from the ridge to the eaves and slender ones to be used as purlins. There was no way I could have got this mix from one local clump; besides, buying bamboo in the wild and bringing them to the market is a specialist trade and I was unwilling to jump into that now. [ pointReturn however will have bamboo planted for future use].

Madurantakam, the major town about 12km away has a few depots that stock a variety of bamboos. Bamboos arrive from all over the south and as far as Kerala – admittedly a very long distance. But the point about this distance travelled, is that the percentage of Kerala used is very small- they are very strong but expensive. Bamboo grows everywhere and there are depots all long the highway and all towns. I discovered there are two major varieties – the Kal Moongil [‘stone hard’] and Boll Moongil [‘light and hollow’]. The former are more expensive and have structural uses. The latter are used to make ladders and to be split into reeds and ribbons to make shades, baskets and articles of utility. I heard strange nomenclature with the word ‘dera’ used often. This word, meaning ‘camp’, had an ordnance flavour; is it from the time armies roamed the countryside and sourced bamboo for their camps and structures?

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