So this is my final post for my time in India - what an amazing country filled with such differences. In the past I've never really enjoyed my time in India until after I've gone back to NZ but I spose being older, wiser and generally more mellow meant that I managed to have a wonderful time even though it was busy, crowded and incredibly hot.
OK, let me rant a little bit about the insane heat we experienced. The absolute temperature wasn't really that bad, but the humidity was a killer! I was taking at least 2 showers a day and 3 whenever possible, just so I could try and stop myself overheating. A bit futile though- even first thing in the morning, by the time you finished drying yourself after your shower, you'd already be sweating! We were in India in April but May is the worst month, and pretty much unbearable according to the locals, so anyone who's considering going to India, stay away from the South in May!
THE SIDEWAYS HEADSHAKE
The beauty of visiting different countries is that you notice some very different mannerisms in people. For instance in India, there's the lack of personal space and the seemly "involved discussions" on the roadside that never escalate. Considering how mental the driving is, I can't believe there's no road rage!
My favourite one however is the aforementioned sideways headshake. Indians do this thing where instead of nodding yes and shaking their heads no, they do a sideways shake which means maybe or ok, but not necessarily. (Try taking your left ear to your left shoulder and then your right ear to right shoulder, the face rotating about the nose. This is the movement, but it only goes about 15 or 20 degrees past vertical. Hopefully this will allow you to visualise it.) Anyway it's highly frustrating to decipher at first, join in my frustration by reading the reproduced conversation below:
Nivi - Do you have this sari in orange?
them - 'sideways shake'
Nivi - so is that a yes?
them - 'sideways shake'
N - arrrgggghhhhh!!!!!
Perhaps one of the scariest things I experienced in India, was catching myself doing the sideways headshake!!! Yikes!
All in all it was a great time in India and a good opportunity to speak Tamil. Although my (poor) "Sri Lankan" tamil was not always understood, it was cool that my perserverance with trying to improve my tamil over the past few years had some payoff. I also found my reading getting a lot better with all the signs and posters around to read.
The food was amazingly delicious, and oh so cheap, but I surprisingly managed to not overeat, probably because of the insane heat :) Unfortunately I didn't get any photos of it, but there was something really cool about sitting crosslegged on the floor, eating delicious food with my hands from a banana leaf (used instead of a plate). Mmmmmmm :D
And perhaps the best thing about India is the people. There is such stark poverty it's heart breaking and even if you're not poor, life is generally hard and lived in tough conditions. However the people just persevere and you're far more likely to get a smile than complaint. It's so very different to life in the West and I wonder if lessons could be learnt from that.
Well I'll cease the rambling now but check out some random pics below.
The Kaveri River. Yeah, excatly, no water in sight. Now do you believe me when I say it was really hot? Shopping by night in Chennai. I love how it's still really busy even late at night, this was prob about 10pm. The ubiquitous cellphone. My parents still struggle with cellphones- this lady would be older than my folks, and less well off but she´s obviously got it down pat! See I was there! Snacking on a yummy treat: a slice of green mango dipped in a mixture of curry powder, salt and water. The tartness of the mango alleviates the spice of the curry powder and its sooo refreshing. Mmmmmm my mouth is watering just thinking about it :) The mighty jackfruit! I dont know how to describe the taste (apart from very good). Anyway try it if you ever get the chance! The beautiful Indian sky with a church in the foreground. The number of Christians and Muslims in Trichy surprised me a bit. You can tell Christians because they don't wear pottus (red dots on the forehead) and Muslim women wear black robes over their saris. Really liked this pic for some reason... Yeah, look carefully, this guy is carrying a goat carcass on his lap. Oh and what about this lady? At least it wasn't the driver though ;) Beautiful sunset :) Twilight, with Venus putting in an appearance Beautiful sunrise :)
I hope you've enjoyed the India posts and do keep checking back as I have more funky places to come :)