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Interview of a beneficiary: Ramalakshmi

Hello you live in the village? What is your name?
Yes, I live in Arunthangavilai. My name is Ramalakshmi.

The construction of your house is not finished but it seems you are already living in it?
Yes, monsoon has started and we were living in temporary shelters which are getting wet with the rain, so we are keeping our valuable things in the new house.

How many members are there in your family?
During the week there is my husband, my daughter and me and on week ends my eldest daughter, her husband and her 2 children also stay with us.

Did you help the architects in anyway to design your house?
Yes, we made a few changes. When the architects came to mark the plot, we explained to them how we wished the house was orientated according to the vastu. The entrance had to face the eastwards and the south west corner of the house had to be higher than the rest of the building.

How did they ask you to participate? Did they show you plans?
They showed us a plan and the orientation of the entrances were not good so we suggested the change. These are the only changes we made.

Do you feel that this house is like your dream house?
Yes, I am very happy with this house. If I had to build it myself, one life wouldn’t have been enough; I would have never been able to afford it financially! The only thing I would say is that I would have liked was if the floor level was raised because when it rains the floor get humid and I would also have liked to have a staircase in order to use the roof as a working space to make the crackers. We could then have worked on a clean and dry floor instead of working on the earth floor in front of the house.

Did you ask for a staircase?
Yes, but at the start of constructions they told that no one could have staircase, so we didn’t insist....

Now that you live in this house, would you mind explaining to me what each room functions as?
All of us have not really shifted here, so for the moment we stock our cracker production and we sleep here. Our every day’s life is still happening from outside, in front of this house.
I will basically use the kitchen only for emergency and simple cooking, like preparing breakfast, cooking idlis and dosas and making coffee. I will cook the other main meals outside as I mostly use wood fire to cook and I don’t want smoke to damage the kitchen walls. I will also use the kitchen to store food and utensils.
In the hall, we will place the TV and the Gods and puja articles. In the bedroom will have one single bed and a cupboard in which we will keep our valuable things (money, jewellery...)

So, where do you sleep?
I sleep in the veranda on one of the stone benches; my daughter sleeps in the hall and my husband in the shed outside the front of the house.

Why are you all sleeping in different places?
Before, we all used to sleep altogether, but now my daughter is older and mature therefore the rules have changed and we can’t sleep together anymore. That is the way most of the people do in the village.

So,you won’t sleep in the bedroom?
No, we will use it to keep our valuable things and my eldest daughter and her family will sleep in it when they come for the week ends.

Before this house and the shelters where did you live?
We use to live here on this plot in an earth house that had a thatched roof. It had 7 rooms in total, 3 with a concrete floor and the rest with an earth floor. We had to redo the roof every two years which cost us Rs. 3000 and we had to maintain the earth walls regularly. This new house will require less maintenance and allow us to save money!

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