Saturday, July 24, 2010

Post: Saturday, July 24

At the resort in one piece! No missing luggage and we didn't hit any cows on the road on the way here. The drive from the airport was TERRIFYING. When I arrived at Chennai airport I was indeed met by a seas of faces, and found my name being held up by a driver from the resort. He was very nice, although I did get the "are you married" question. Thank goodness it was followed up by pictures of his newborn daughter and his wife. On his cell phone. While he was driving.

And by driving, I mean with his knees while showing me family pictures on his cell phone while weaving through lanes (What lane lines? Oh, those lines that don't matter!), honking and flashing his brights at whoever was turning in front of us, crossing in front of us (even if they were cows, goats or dogs), going too slow in front of us or beside us (during or followed by tailgating and swerving around to get in front of them), and speeding way too fast for city limits let alone a city with cows, goats, dogs, pedestrians and autorickshaws all over the place. I think I got my first grey hair during that ride.

Although conversation was difficult due to my lack of sleep and inability to understand my driver's accent, he was interested in Canada. It's funny, he knew just as much about my country as I do about his. Maybe less. He asked questions like, "Are the winters very cold?" and "How much is the price of a beer?". This first conversation with an Indian made me realize that the east and the west have this in common- we have no idea how each other live their lives, other than what the media portrays.

When we arrived at the resort, minus of few years off my life, it was barely getting light outside. I wanted to fall into bed but everything was such a culture shock at this point that I was numb and awake past the point of exhaustion. I was compelled to unpack and find familiar belongings, which, coming out of my suitcase, looked completely out of place in this land. I wanted to email home and let my boyfriend, Rob, know I had arrived okay. The wi-fi at the resort wasn't working for some reason and I couldn't sleep until I had some sort of contact with home. I tried for half an hour to get the right phone code for Canada and dial the numbers properly. Eventually I got it right and reached Rob all the way on the other side of the world. It was really good to hear his voice. After talking to him I felt calmer and more grounded and feel asleep probably around 9am. As I was falling asleep, I thought I heard the rumbling of thunder, but it was actually the thundering of waves on the beach as the Bay of Bengal pulsed towards the shore outside my window.

It sounded like a beautiful day outside while I slept it away. Unfortunately when I finally woke up it was 7:30pm and the sun was setting. After freshening up and showering it was dark outside. Managed to find the internet cafe and got set up for wi-fi. I was pretty hungry so I headed to the restaurant, which is on a huge outdoor covered patio, where I found some of the other faculty members. Shortly after joining them, Prasanna, the president of the school, showed up with some of his family, and I ate dinner with them while the rest of the faculty went back to their rooms. I had some delicious butter chicken with rice, naan bread and a side of raita. Raita is a non-sweet yogurt/vegetable dish that not only is a secret weapon to cool down the spices in your mouth but also aids in digestion. Prasanna's family said that butter chicken is actually from the north of India and that the resort serves it because tourists like me are familiar with it. Much of the Indian food served around the world is based on northern Indian cuisine, which I find quite spicy already. Southern India food is apparently even spicier. I didn't try and of that tonight but am looking forward to trying it... in baby steps. Maybe after the first few days of being here.

It's quite humid here, similiar to southern Ontario humidity but more so. It's not terribly hot- the temperature is comparable to the heat wave we had in southern Ontario recently. It does feel very tropical.

There was a gecko on the outside of my bathroom window tonight. At first I wasn't sure what it was and if it was trying to get in somehow because it was attracted to the electric light inside. Actually, it was feasting on the tiny insects that were attracted to the light in the window. Hooray for geckos and their natural tendency to keep tiny insects from getting indoors!


  1. Sarah -
    Ah, the joys of road travel in India. Just remember that when people say "getting there is half the fun", they don't bother to mention that the other half is fraught with terror.
    Sounds like you're off to a great start to a wonderful adventure.

  2. Wow, glad you made it!
    I am always amazed how tourists (and others) make it through car rides in places like India and Korea (I've heard the driving there is similar).

    I think our local Indian restaurant (Chutneys) must be Southern Indian cuisine, because I ordered something that was supposed to be 'medium' spicey and it was HOT, HOT, HOT!

  3. That's awesome! Yeah, if it's southern Indian it wouldn't serve things like butter chicken but there'd be a lot of vegetarian dishes- there's dhal which is lentil-based but I haven't learned the names of the rest yet. They're all very soupy-looking and extremely spicy- spicier than the nothern fare. Most Indian restaurants in North America are northern Indian cuisine though.

    As for the terror, driving here doesn't get better with time. The driver I had that night was particularly bad though!