Riding on a bus in India is a lot like watching television...

  • Michelle Thomas
  • 31 Jul, 2010

Sunday, December 14, 2003 Travelogue:  Excerpts from past impressions and experiences in India (see the first travelogue segment we posted)

Tamil Nadu, Southern India

Only better.  As the gray fumes from passing vehicles pump in between the bars on the windows, blurring your vision slightly, the scenes that pass by are simply amazing.  I’ve taken to riding around with a kerchief covering my nose and mouth, like most of the Indian women do.

Cows cows everywhere, w/ no one to milk them in sight, eating trash and the billboard signs off the walls.  They have luxuriously curved horns painted in stripes of yellows and reds and greens.  There are tiny baby goats w/ long stiff legs that seem not to bend, wandering w/ their too-long ears behind their mothers, who are also eating trash.

Men riding bicycles and behind them a rainbow of lime-green coconuts hoovering over the back wheel.  Women carrying loads of bricks on their heads from one place to another on construction sites where they make the cement right there in front of you out of black rock and sand they collect from the beach.

I’ve seen two men with two thumbs on one hand in the last two weeks.  The one thumb is perfectly normal sized; the other, a miniature growth complete w/ joint, nail, and cuticle.  Small distortions abound.

Our first blackout was in Mamallapuram – a small seaside sculptors’ village just south of Chennai w/ a beautiful beach littered w/ trash.  The fans were dead, as were the lights, and we walked through a candle-lit town.  We were in mid-street when the power returned and lo and behold a cow w/ its tail raised was sending a hose full of urine right in our direction.

In Cambodia, our friend Mono remarked about the large family sizes, “the people know about contraception, they just can’t afford to buy condoms.”  In India the situation is much the same.  We keep a slew of stickers in our pockets to hand out at a moments notice whenever we are besieged by beggar children.  Extra tooth brushes, pens, marbles and pins also make good gifts.

From Mamallapuram we bussed it further south to Pondicherry, an old French stronghold still retaining residual charm, and took a tour of Auroville – this weird New Age co-op w/ a huge Epcot Center sized golden ball containing the heart of the community.  The heart is a padded white room with one of the world’s largest crystal balls in the center, and is used for meditation.

We are now traveling west, through the Chola heartland, visiting 1,000 year old temples and stopping only to eat, sleep and of course, check e-mail.  We’re on a race to reach Alya by the 22ndish on the Christian west coast in the state of Kerala where we’ll celebrate Christmas.  We (even Jonit) have been singing Christmas carols to keep our spirits up but it just doesn’t put you in the same mood when the weather outside is 80 degrees.

I miss you all and hope you are enjoying the *Holidays.  Please keep in touch.

love,

Michelle

P.S.  The food is phenomenal.

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