I’m sitting on my rooftop balcony in
On Wednesday I went to get my sarees tailored with Parveen, a girl from work. I sent out an email to a work email list and she wrote back saying that she could accompany me to her tailor and make sure that he could have my sarees back backing time for the Indian wedding I’ve been invited to this weekend. We headed out to a part of town that I've never been to before and went to the tailor. Afterwards she invited me to her house and I met her mom, grandma, and her son.
The architecture in the neighborhood was completely different than the other housing I’ve seen in
They invited me for dinner and I watched her mom make fresh roti and fried egg with olive oil (the most familiar food I’ve had here ;) and she took me to the dining area which was a cloth spread out on the living room floor with pillows up against the wall. We ate the egg, roti, rice, and a vegetarian ‘curd’ curry with our hands (her grandmother tried to tutor me in eating technique in Hindi as I tried to eat rice with my fingers, to everyone’s amusement), and I’m starting to get good at the one handed roti-break. My favorite part of the entire experience was that we could talk about the differences between the US and here, and learn a lot from each other. Usually because American culture is so central to tv, I learn things from other people, but they already know about American culture. But in India, American culture isn't so ubiquitous, and we each had plenty of questions for each other.
On Friday night I went with 6 other expats on a weekend odyssey in the South. The players were me, 2 other American girls, Shannon and Kerrie, a German girl, Sarah, two Irish guys, Neil and Dave, and a Portuguese guy, Filipe. We flew on an Indian discount airline, which I was a bit worried about, but it turned out to be really nice (way nicer than Southwest or Jetblu, with entirely new planes). We arrived at about 9 and were greeted by our personal driver, whom I’d arranged for with Ismail, the guru of all drivers everywhere in
We happened to roll out of the restaurant at the time when every bus in
After we escaped Chennai we had a delirious 3 hour journey with Mari pulling off in a super sketchy place to ask for directions, and playing chicken with oncoming ‘prison buses’ (buses full of night travelers with gated windows that looked like prison buses from the movies). When we finally reached
Shannon and I shared another ‘romantic canopy bed room’ with a ‘bathroom’ which involved a screen placed so that if you were at the toilet or sink you could see straight into the shower. Our hotel was decent, the nicest in
After finally falling asleep at 4:30 due to post-car traumatic stress syndrome, I awoke at 9:30 unable to sleep. I dragged myself out of bed and went outside to a whole new world! The hotel had a beautiful inner courtyard a la Spanish missions in
The beach was only a few blocks away and I could see it once I turned the corner out of our hotel. The streets were quiet except for a few people working on a building, and the water was tropical blue. There wasn’t too much of a beach, because it was blocked by big black rocks, but women in sarees were bathing and men were swimming. The temperature was already sizzling so I headed back to the hotel.
Later on, after everyone was ready, we walked around
We drove around
When we arrived in Mamallapurum, a world heritage site with carved caves and a Hindu temple overlooking the
We went to dinner in town and spent a leisurely 4 hours at the restaurant, not necessarily because we wanted to be slow, but because that’s how long it took us to get our food. We ordered a ton of food because we were starving, and throughout the night they would bring about 1 dish every 20 minutes, and occasionally mention when we’d ask for a particular item that was missing that they didn’t actually have it.
In the morning Mari escorted the girls to the Shore temple and then to the cave carvings, which were worth the trip. The shore temple, the last temple of 8 created by a lost dynasty during the 7th century, sits dramatically over the
After the temples we met up with the boys and went to lunch, and then the girls went shopping. We met a fantastic salesman who managed to keep us in his shop the entire time we had devoted to shopping, and I’m now the proud owner of 3 tapestries, a tea tray, and 6 christmas tree ornaments – truly an amazing salesman ;) I love all of them and they are now decorating my room.
We finished up the trip to Chennai getting to the city super early after our Friday night experience and hoped to have a relaxing dinner. Sadly, we were there during the 3 hours a day that no restaurants are open, so we ended up in the basement bar of the hotel we ate dinner at on Friday, eating grilled cheese sandwiches. And let me tell you, they were the best damn grilled cheese sandwiches ever.