Friday, December 12, 2008

Our last day in Chennai. We fly out this morning at 4 am. I'm packed, done at work, and wondering what to do with the rest of the afternoon and evening. We may go down to the beach, where no one goes into the water, and enjoy sitting, reading, and relaxing. Here are some more random pictures from the road trip. Above, the facade of a temple.

Below, one of my favorite pictures. My husband saw two men weaving rope. One was standing at one end of the street, the other way at the other end. Then, having seen me warp my loom, he realized that they were making a warp and that they'd spread way out to accommodate the length of the warp. In one of those moments that make a trip special, they invited him back to the workshop to see saris being woven. The weaver is working with gold thread on a large, Jacquard-style loom. I wish that I could have seen this:
A statue of a god, dressed up. Quite often, the images in temples will be draped or dressed in finery. On the way to work, we pass a house that has six brick-looking things lined up in a row and each is wearing a little apron. After the rains, they redressed them in new, clean duds. It's very sweet, though I'm not sure what it signifies.
Ancient Tamil writing. Tamil is the language of South India. It is beautiful to hear - very melodious, lilting, flowy. I tried to learn a few words, but the pronunciation is very precise and there's much more use of the tongue and mouth to make sounds than in American English, and I didn't want to mispeak. I'm hoping to learn a bit before my next trip. Any native Tamil speakers in the Chicago area who are available to tutor?
Statue of an elephant in a clearing.
So, a good trip. I'd highly recommend India to anyone wanting to see a new culture that is rooted in an ancient heritage. In comparison, our country is just at toddler stage, or not even there: our 300 or 400 years is a blink of an eye compared to the history of India. The people are welcoming, the food is fascinating and challenging and tasty (as long as you're not getting over the flu), the energy is vibrant, and everywhere you look there is something interesting to see. The next time, I'll pack a little more in the way of staples that I like to eat: good olive oil, a chunk of Parmesean cheese, some yeast for making pizza, a bigger jar of peanut butter and maybe one of almond butter for variety, crackers. And I'll be experimenting with the Indian food at my neighborhood grocery store so that I know the vegetables and fruits better and know what I can do to cook them to my taste. I'll also play with the dal and the different things to do with rice, so that, given a two-burner stove, I can build some variety into the dinners and lunches.
I'll do a longer post once I get home, but for now, I'll probably not be writing much over the next two days of travel. I'm looking forward to seeing the dog - I hope he hasn't eaten the sofa or the babysitter - and getting used to the cold weather. That, I can't even imagine right now!




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